Find the people, resources, news & events that interest you.
Valued as much for its gently rolling topography as for its immediate access to the regional airport, the Indiana Toll Road and a major U.S. bypass, the 5,281-acre Blackthorn Development Area on South Bend’s far-northwestside was initially created to make South Bend better able to compete for new office complexes, warehouse and light industrial development.
|Schafer Gear Works Inc.|
So when Blackthorn-area company Schafer Gear Works Inc. announced plans to develop a brand-new state-of-the-art facility for producing ground gears for trucking and automotive applications, the City of South Bend’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funding provided a strong incentive to build it locally. Previously, Schafer Gear had been able to add new equipment to its facility with City incentives that included a combination of a personal property tax phase-in and a $750,000 loan from the Industrial Revolving Loan Fund.
A joint venture of Schafer Gear Works and Somaschini S.p.A., based in Trescore Balneario, Italy, the 50,000-square-foot South Bend Gear LLC, will be located on the Schafer Gear Works campus, near the existing 108,000-square-foot facility.
Committed to investing locally
The facility will use innovative process technology developed by its Italian partner. Production is scheduled to begin in late 2011, with the facility fully operational within a year. The new plant will employ 12 people in its first phase, and an additional 13 people when fully operational.
“When we started to build the new structure for our joint venture, we hired mostly local people,” says Bipin Doshi, Schafer Gear’s president. “We always try to hire local talent as much as we can.”
In recognition of Schafer’s ongoing commitment to investing in South Bend, staff members at the City made a recommendation to the Redevelopment Commission to provide $28,788 in TIF funds to provide access to the Metronet.
The Metronet is a 65-mile loop of vendor-neutral dark fiber that offers state-of-the-art high-speed data connectivity. Equally important, the fiber network helps connect local users to the global fiber network, an important feature for the international joint venture.
“Metronet connectivity helped out a great deal in terms of getting high-speed access,” Doshi says. “It allows us to download large files. We normally have graphic files and print files that used to take a long time to load and transfer. Since we do a fair amount of that, the higher speed and bandwidth capacity is very helpful.
“Metronet connectivity has also allowed us to hook up to our other locations,” he adds, “so that now our communications among facilities are instantaneous.”
In addition to its South Bend location, Schafer Gear Works operates production facilities in Fort Wayne, Ind., and Rockford, Ill.
All this … and its own road, too
Founded in 1934, Schafer Gear Works is a diversified supplier to a variety of markets in North America, including leisure vehicles, material handling, mining, power transmission, construction, locomotive, aircraft, medical and automotive and heavy-duty truck markets.
Last year the company experienced a 40-percent increase in business over the previous year.
In addition to the TIF incentive, City officials renamed the access road leading to the industrial campus in the company’s honor. No money was required to execute the name change: The road formerly known as Showerlux Drive was simply reintroduced as Schafer Gear Drive in September in honor of Schafer Gear’s $10-million-plus expansion. Doshi says the company expects to invest an additional $8 million in 2012.
“The City has been very proactive in helping us,” Doshi says.“It’s important to remember that the businesses that are already here require just as much help to expand as new ones do to get started. TIF money helps with that.”