The Starke County Council this week took preliminary steps to clear the way for the relocation of a Chicagoland-area business to North Judson. Outstanding Tradeshow Exhibit Services, OTES for short, is looking to buy the Thermo Products building on State Road 10 west of town and set up shop in there. The company creates tradeshow exhibits for businesses. Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Charlie Weaver says the project is a big win for Starke County.
“You get the new investment in the county. You get the new employees. You keep Kemin, which is very important, because Kemin is going to be expanding in this county. They’re already bringing rosemary up from Texas to process in Indiana, in addition to the mint they’re doing now. Third, you keep Thermo Products, and if you didn’t keep Thermo in there they would be in North Carolina in a heartbeat. I know that because my brother-in-law’s an engineer there.”
OTES President Nan Wellman plans to buy and renovate the building and lease space to the other two tenants. Weaver has already given her a list of local contractors who can do the work.
The company is seeking real estate and personal property tax abatements worth about $1 million total over the next 10 years as well as a designation of the property as an economic revitalization area. Weaver told the council granting preliminary approval to those requests is non-binding and will keep the project moving forward.
“Chances are because of her schedule she’ll probably have to look someplace else. I’m going to tell you folks, I’ve shown that Thermo Products building about 25 times. There broker has shown it never, and so I know the condition of that building. It’s tough to get someone in there when you’re waking through water that’s two inches deep.”
Wellman founded the business in 2012 and says she needs a place where it can really soar.
“Quite frankly Illinois is killing me in taxes. Companies over there are a dime a dozen. Also being from Indiana I’m looking forward to coming back here as well, putting my roots back here and staying. I have family in Indiana.”
The council granted a preliminary approval of the abatement and designation as an economic revitalization area, on the condition that any abated taxes must be repaid should OTES leave prior to the end of the 10-year phase in. A public hearing on the tax abatement requests will be scheduled during their July 18th meeting.