AM Manufacturing considers move to Munster

2014-01-01T14:18:00Z 2014-01-01T17:33:16Z AM Manufacturing considers move to MunsterLu Ann Franklin Times Correspondent
January 01, 2014 2:18 pm  • 

MUNSTER | The Munster Redevelopment Commission is considering the use of incentives to bring Dolton.-based AM Manufacturing to the Lake Business Center.

Owned by Claudia Kunis and Holly Rentner, the light manufacturing company builds dough-processing machines for the food industry here and abroad. These machines process dough including pizzas, pitas, bagels and tortillas for many larger food retailers including Nestle, Aurelio’s and Papa John's.

At the Dec. 16 meeting, commissioners sought information from AM Manufacturing Engineering/Production Manager Mark Van Drunen about the potential relocation of the company’s world headquarters to a 56,800-square-foot facility. Commissioners also were introduced to the owners of the business that has been in operation since 1961.

AM Manufacturing is seeking incentives valued at $300,000 from the Munster Redevelopment Commission, which is 50 percent of the company’s $600,000 cost of infrastructure improvements to the Lake Business Center site. These will include a bridge crane, a concrete ramp to drive into the building, compressed air distribution, offices and a major electrical service upgrade.

“The tax abatement is based on equipment new to Indiana,” said Town Manager Tom DeGiulio. “The tax abatement on personal property would give them operating relief.”

Assistant Town Manager Clay Johnson also provided information to the commissioners about the tax abatement matrix that ranks the number and kinds of jobs the company would bring to Munster.

“AM Manufacturing will bring their current 30 person workforce from the Illinois plant,” Johnson said, adding that half of those workers are Indiana residents.

The jobs pay more than $22 per hour, Van Drunen said during the meeting.

In addition, the company’s owners plan to add another 10 employees in the next few years.

In a letter to the Redevelopment Commission, Kunis and Rentner said the company needs more room.

“We are investigating two options: first to stay in Dolton, Ill., and add on to our current facility or move complete operations to Munster. After a financial analysis, it was discovered moving a manufacturing company is extremely expensive,” the owners said in the letter.

The move to Munster would also allow the company to dedicate 6,000 square feet to the showroom, Van Drunen said. The Dolton facility has a 3,500-square foot showroom.

In addition, clients from around the world who visit the plant to see the equipment in action would stay at the hotels that are or will be part of the Lake Business Center complex, he said.

Van Drunen said the company has been looking to lease space at the Munster site for about six months. Other incentives are being sought from the Indiana Economic Development Corp., which is the state's department of commerce.

“We are also in discussion with the Northwest Indiana Development Authority,” he said.

Commissioner Andy Koultourides said AM Manufacturing “would be a nice fit” for the Lake Business Center.

“We need to know exactly what you’re looking for,” said Commission Chairman Joseph Simonetto.

The Redevelopment Commission took the matter of incentives under advisement until later in January to allow the town’s administrative staff to work with the company.

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