ROLLING PRAIRIE | A maker of protective footwear has plans to relocate its manufacturing line to LaPorte County.

Heartland Footwear Inc. intends to move its assembly line from Arkansas to Rolling Prairie.

Matt Reardon, director of the LaPorte County Office for Economic Development, said the company is looking at 60,000 square feet in the O'Tech Corp. building near Ind. 2.

It's a cost-saving move because O'Tech Corp. supplies the materials that make Heartland Footwear products in Pocahontas, Ark., Reardon said.

"They're consolidating their operations," he said.

The company recently obtained permission from the LaPorte County Council to pursue tax abatement on the projected $1.5 million investment, Reardon said. He said incentives are also being sought from the state.

"Hopefully, they will wind up pulling the trigger and doing all of this stuff," Reardon said.

He said 23 jobs would be created at first with another 25 or so positions to be generated in three years.

"They're certainly willing to employ local residents so that's a good thing," Reardon said.

According to the company's website, Heartland Footwear manufactures rubber and polymer-based waterproof boots billed as rugged enough and slip resistant to withstand the elements yet comfortable enough for long durations of working outdoors.

The company founded in 2010 also offers a stylish array of children’s and women’s fashion waterproof boots, according to the website.

Sewers were recently extended to Rolling Prairie from LaPorte because of many failed or failing septic systems in the small unincorporated community.

LaPorte County Councilman Rich Mrozinski said he's not sure if having sewers was a factor in the company's decision to relocate but feels "it wouldn't have hurt, that's for sure."

"It's a big positive step for Rolling Prairie," Mrozinski said.

Mrozinski said the company could come back for official approval of tax abatement possibly as soon as the next County Council meeting Nov. 25.

John is the Porter County editor for The Times. He is a Region native and graduate of Valparaiso University. He has worked for The Times since 1996 and previously worked for newspapers in Jasper and Newton counties.