RV Firm Adding 500 Jobs in Noble County

RV Firm Adding 500 Jobs in Noble County

One of the largest RV manufacturers in North America, Forest River RV, is expanding to Ligonier, Indiana and expects to bring about 500 new jobs to Noble County, in Northeast Indiana, over the next few years.

Forest River RV announced the recent acquisition of three existing buildings on north Gerber Street in the Ligonier Industrial Park, adding nearly 160,000 square feet to house their IBEX Travel Trailer production, parts, and service center. The company purchased the properties, formerly occupied by Vibracoustic and J Edwards Furniture, in September. Forest River’s Puma plant is also located on Gerber Street and currently employs about 160 people.

Forest River RV, a division of Forest River, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway company, was founded in 1996 and is headquartered in Elkhart, Indiana. The company produces recreational vehicles, pontoons, park models, buses, cargo trailers, and commercial trucks under dozens of brand names. The company cites record growth and a tightening labor pool as reasons for the expansion into Ligonier. In August 2020, the company announced a $3.5 million expansion of their manufacturing campus in Butler, Indiana, located about 40 miles east of Ligonier. When announced, that expansion predicted the creation of 369 new jobs by the end of 2023.

“The diversity of Forest River, Inc. enables us to approach the RV industry with a unique perspective, incorporating lessons learned at each one of our divisions,” explained Mike Stump. “We are excited to continue expanding our operations in Noble County where we have access to a talented workforce, strong RV manufacturing history and ecosystem, and business-friendly environment,” he continued.

Forest River’s IBEX Travel Trailers offer off-the-grid and outdoor enthusiasts eight floor plans and two widths, 7’ and 8’. The IBEX series are lightweight to accommodate towing by SUVs and smaller trucks. Interiors and overall design features have earned IBEX two major awards in 2021, including RV Business Top 10 and RVPRO Best New Model. Buyers may opt for a popular toy hauler design that includes a back ramp door (that converts into a raised outdoor deck) and garage (that doubles as a bedroom) for stowing ATVs, kayaks, bikes, and other recreational goodies, making it a must have for off-the-grid, outdoor enthusiasts.

IBEX expects to ramp up production by late November with the first travel trailer anticipated to come off the production line in early December. The three industrial buildings will house production as well as a parts and service center. Job applicants may apply online at https://forestriverinc.applicantstack.com/x/openings.

Forest Rivers expansion into Ligonier will not be complete with the startup of IBEX production line. The company also announced it is investing over $4.4 million to acquire 65 more acres in the Ligonier Industrial Park to construct three 95,000 square foot buildings and add over $400,000 in new machinery and equipment. Detailed plans related to this additional acquisition have not yet been released, but the company expects the operation will bring over 300 more new jobs to Noble County when complete.

“We are grateful for the support of the City of Ligonier, their local and county development partners, and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) and look forward to welcoming new employees who will help us continue to deliver high-quality products to customers around the world, Stump explained.”

“I could not be prouder to welcome Forest River’s expansions in Ligonier,” said Ligonier Mayor Patty Fisel. “We know our workforce is a great fit for them and that they are a great employer. It is never easy to see jobs lost, as we did when Vibracoustic pulled out last year. This is a great transition and opportunity for us to keep our people working and the community growing.”

Local officials joined the IEDC in providing incentives to help seal the deal with Forest River’s expansion. The Ligonier Industrial Development Corporation has agreed to invest in site preparation in support of upcoming, new construction. The City of Ligonier is also expected to consider a 10-year tax abatement on real property and personal property investments in coming weeks. The Noble County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) has also stood firmly behind the project and is exploring a possible investment to add an additional access point to the new site.

“This is a great win for the City of Ligonier, of course, but also for all of Noble County,” said Gary Gatman, executive director of the Noble County EDC. “It is a great example of how we can grow the local economy when we collaborate and work together. Working with the city, IEDC, and Forest River has been great. We welcome Forest River’s expansions and look forward to a long and prosperous partnership in Noble County.”

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