VALPARAISO | The City Council gave its backing to a plan by Emerson Power/McGill Manufacturing to consolidate the company's lab testing facilities from all its plants in Valparaiso.
Local Vice President and General Manager Jim Johnson told the City Council on Monday he has been working to convince Emerson officials the 909 Lafayette St. location has room to accommodate the testing facilities already at Valparaiso and at the company's other two locations.
"I've been trying to convince my organization Valparaiso does offer the best solution for what they are looking for," Johnson said. "It would secure the professional positions we have. We have seen some of those migrate to our other locations. This would help secure the remaining professional positions and give us a chance to grow."
To help accomplish that, the City Council approved two 10-year tax abatements on the improvements Johnson wants to make and has been planning for many months. If approved by the company, a $1.76 million dollar renovation of the Lafayette facility would begin in October.
Part of the renovation is to turn a large manufacturing space in the plant that is now mostly vacant into a 6,700-square-foot testing lab for developing new products and testing existing ones. Johnson said Valparaiso University would be interested in using the equipment the company plans to install.
The new equipment could be installed beginning in February at a cost of $2.5 million. When complete, the company would add seven jobs immediately, and eventually it plans to add 40 to 50 more jobs with starting salaries in the mid-$40,000 range.
The abatements will enable Emerson/McGill to save about $234,000 over the 10 years. The state also is providing incentives, Economic Development Director Matt Murphy said.
"It's hard to overestimate the impact of Emerson on the city," Mayor Jon Costas said. "We are grateful to have such a presence. When local companies are bought out, they sometimes tend to migrate elsewhere. It's great to see you have a growing presence here, and we will do everything in our power to help you grow."