Business Booming In Berne

Once again Berne officials are celebrating after two new businesses announced plans to locate within the city, following the purchase of the former Ficosa building at 917 Leichty Road.

Larry Macklin, director of Adams County Economic Development Corporation, appeared before city council Monday evening with representatives of Sherrell Investments LLC, Tennessee, and Indiana Coatings Inc. to request three tax abatements:  a personal property abatement for Sherrell–who is purchasing the former Ficosa building– and one abatement each for Sherrell and Indiana Coatings for new manufacturing equipment.

In 2013, the Berne council adopted a tax abatement policy that awards up to five years of freedom from real and personal property tax liability for companies making a significant investment in the community. The so-called “super abatement” phase-in tax policy allows the city to award seven and ten-year tax abatements which include up to five years of freedom from all personal and real property liability.

“This is a great opportunity to put back into use a building that has sat idle for 2 1/2 years,” said Macklin. “We are fortunate to have the interest of Sherrell Investments.”

Sherrell is looking to rehabilitate the now vacant building, investing an estimated $1.85 million to bring the dormant location back to manufacturing life. Over the next year–or perhaps sooner– Sherrell plans to bring in an estimated $1.085 million in manufacturing and IT equipment, for a total of $2.935 million over the next four years, according to Macklin.

“What that means is that they are proposing to bring part of their operation to Berne and product injection mold components for their customers,” he said.

The investment by Sherrell will bring with it about 20 new jobs.

But the good news doesn’t end there.

Sherrell will lease a large portion of the former Ficosa building to Indiana Coatings Inc., a newly-incorporated, female-owned industrial coatings supplier to Tier 1 automotive and appliance industries. Indiana Coatings plans to establish its first Indiana operation in Berne, creating up to 120 new jobs by 2018.

The company–which is affiliated to a similar facility in Ontario, Canada–plans to invest up to $3.8 million to locate its new facility in Berne.

“Folks, these proposed investments together means about $5.2 million for this community and 140 new jobs,” said Macklin. “This is a powerful commitment from Indiana Coatings  and Sherrell Investments to develop new business here in order for them to meet customer demands. It is these types of investments that help our community grow.”

City attorney Dave Baumgartner informed councilors should they decide to pass the initial resolutions, the matter would then be the subject of a public hearing on September 28 to finalize the phase-in abatements. However, he noted the former Ficosa building is not part of the city’s TIF district, therefore the resolutions do not have to go before the Berne Redevelopment Commission.

“First, I just want to welcome everybody that’s here tonight,” said Mayor Bill McKean. “This has been an enjoyable project, and Larry has done a fantastic job heading this up. It’s been a real pleasure working with all you people and we’re very excited for what’s to come.”

“We’re experiencing a building on the other side of town (the former Dunbar Furniture building) that was vacated several years ago and is now being torn down. And now we have one that’s going to redeveloped. That’s just great news for everyone.”

The vote was an easy one, with council passing unanimously  the initial phase-in requests for Sherrell and Indiana Coatings. The issue will now go before the Berne Board of Public Works and Safety for scoring of the two companies to ensure they qualify for the abatement.

When asked if either Ricky Sherrell, president of Sherrell Investments, or Ashok Bhatt, treasurer of Indiana Coatings Inc., had anything they would like to say before the board, both men seemed pleased with the tone of the meeting.

“I’m excited to be here,” said Sherrell. “It seems like a great town and we can’t wait to get started. Oh, and we found the ice cream parlor,” he noted to a round of laughter. “That’s the most important thing.”

Bhatt added, “We are happy to have found Adams County and for the Berne Community to become the home of our new business. Our mission is to provide the best quality product at a fair price for our customers, so the city of Berne, Mayor McKean, the Adams County Economic Development Corporation and the state of Indiana have given us the tools we need to fulfill this goal.”

With that, the matter was brought to a close and a reception–attended by representatives of many area Berne businesses–was held to greet the newcomers to the community.


Authored by Jannaya Andrews  September 15, 2015

Decatur Daily Democrat