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Allen County scores, Whitley County wins

May 9th, 2017

By Linda Lipp | Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly

Northeast Indiana cities and counties have to be competitive with each other - and with cities and counties across the country - when it comes to attracting or expanding local business.

But there also are instances of cooperation. Whitley County’s latest win, American Landmaster, which will spend $4 million to equip a former Superior Essex building on U.S. 30 and create as many as 67 new jobs, was actually the result of legwork done by Greater Fort Wayne Inc.

Whitley’s involvement came at the last minute, said Jon Myers, president of the Whitley Economic Development Corp.

The Ambassador Enterprises affiliate, which manufactures and distributes off-road vehicles, was looking for a location at which it could consolidate operations currently in Fort Wayne and Roseland, La.

To entice it to expand in Allen County, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered LandMaster $420,000 in tax credits and $70,000 in training grants, based on its job creation plans, and it would have qualified for a tax abatement as well. But Allen County just didn’t have a building that met LandMaster’s needs, and there was a real possibility that the company would leave Indiana, said Scott Naltner, director of business development for Greater Fort Wayne Inc.

Naltner sent LandMaster to Myers and Whitley County instead. The IEDC offer was transferable, and Whitley promised an abatement comparable to what Allen County would have provided.

The abatement, approved by the Whitley County Council May 2, will allow LandMaster to save $88,000 in taxes over 10 years.

The new facility is just 15 miles from Landmaster’s current one, close enough for current employees to commute.

“It just worked out perfectly for them to stay in northeast Indiana,” Naltner said.