A project that came up “very quickly” was met with decisive action by the North Vernon Redevelopment Commission (NVRC or TIF board) on Friday, February 14.
It was a sweet day for the Commission to hear that a 100 percent-owned local company was on the verge of a major breakthrough in its growth. Layman Fabrication, located at 3435 N. Fourth St., plans to construct a new facility, doubling its size and creating 15 new jobs by 2024.
The growth is the result of several factors which include an expansion of work among several clients, including one based near Chicago, and the company becoming a certified vendor for Honda North America in 2019. Layman Fabrication received its first contract with the automotive giant last month.
“Our new relationship with Honda will give us the opportunity to become one of their lead metal fabrication suppliers,” according to information provided the Commission. Without the new facility and acreage, the company said it will be unable to complete the contract here in Jennings County.
Jennings County Economic Development Commission Director Kathy Ertel explained the proposal to the Commission was based on a plan to keep the company in Jennings County.
The proposal included the following:
• The Redevelopment Commission would grant the company 10 acres it owns adjacent directly west of Layman Fabrication’s current facility. The 10 acres is estimated to be worth $70,000. The Commission would also pay for pre-construction work in “carving out” the site, such as soil testing.
• The Redevelopment Commission would purchase Layman Fabrication’s current facility for $510,000, its current appraised price. The size of the current structure is 12,400 square feet.
• Layman Fabrication would utilize its current building and pay utilities until its new facility is operational, with the move-in date set for Oct. 1, 2020. The new building will be a pre-engineered all-steel structure.
• The company would be given a five-year tax abatement for the new facility, which would have to be approved by the North Vernon City Council.
Kyle Layman, Layman Fabrication president, will present his growth plan, or “specific plan of action” to Honda on Monday, Feb. 24. The official contract for the new work is expected to be signed March 1.
The company moved into a 8,400 square foot facility in 2003 with four full-time employees, and expanded to 12,400 square feet five years later.
Today, Layman Fabrication has 18 employees, with the goal to “grow the company to be an 80-team member business and beyond. This type of growth can only be achieved with a larger facility and future expansion options,” Layman wrote in his proposal.
The new facility will be 24,000 square feet. In the first year, four to six new jobs will be created and range from $18 to $20 an hour. By 2024, Layman projects a total of 15 new jobs.
As the new $1.2 million factory is being constructed, work on the new Honda contract will commence at Layman Fabrication’s current location; however, as the project continues, the work will outgrow the smaller building.
Commission members had several questions about the proposal before approving it with a vote of 4-0-1, with Josh Leonard abstaining because he is related to the Layman family. Commission members approving the project were Greg Hicks, Jeff O’Connor, Keith Stearns and Larry Wasson.
EDC Director Ertel clarified that the grant of the 10 acres is in line with other industrial incentives awarded in the past; for example, Lowe’s Regional Distribution Center, Gasper Engineering and GT Industries were all given acreage.
By purchasing the current facility, the EDC has achieved its goal of obtaining a structure it can market for immediate occupancy. The cost – $519,000 – is the appraised price which was also reviewed and approved in a “broker price opinion,” said local realtor and City Councilor Jerry Lamb, who termed the price “very fair.”
There was some discussion about when and how the Commission would buy and pay for the building. According to North Vernon Clerk-treasurer Shawn Gerkin, the TIF board’s cash flow would allow for immediate payment. The decision as to the timing of the purchase will be further discussed at their March meeting.
Redevelopment board attorney Chuck Waggoner will put together a development agreement to be signed by the Commission and Layman Fabrication.
The fact that the company is a local success story was noted and celebrated throughout the 45 minute meeting.
The general consensus was summed up by Mayor Mike Ochs who said “I’m for it. It’s a great opportunity. I’ve known his (Kyle Layman’s) grandpa (for years).”
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation also submitted a letter to the Commission stating it will cover certain incentives for Layman Fabrication’s proposed expansion.
The state-run agency will provide:
• A grant of up to $50,000 from the Skills Enhancement Fund for training.
• Offer up to $125,000 in Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) tax credit which may be certified over a period not to exceed 10 years. This is based on the expected creation of 20 net new full-time positions.