The Chesterton town hall meeting room was awash Monday night with good
cheer, as representatives of Urschel Laboratories Inc. made their first
public appearance before officials since the company’s announcement late
last year that it will be moving its corporate headquarters and
manufacturing facility to Coffee Creek Center.
There was much hand-shaking and well-wishing. Introductions were made,
welcomes bade, and some important business done.
Begin with the business. Both the newly reconstituted Economic Development
Commission (EDC) and the Town Council voted unanimously to approve an
“inducement resolution,” which sets in motion the issue of up to $25,860,000
in tax-exempt bonds to Urschel Laboratories, which as the Chesterton
Tribune reported in Monday’s edition the company will repay over the
next 20 years with 85 percent of the taxes on real and personal property
which it otherwise would have paid to the town as a property owner in a tax
increment financing district. During that time the town will still receive
an estimated $4,566,455 in property-tax revenues from Urschel Laboratories.
That inducement resolution, as bond counsel Jim Shananhan put it, is
essentially a “snapshot of the project,” and under it Urschel Laboratories
will use the bonds to finance not only the acquisition of land and its HQ
and plant but also “the construction of bridges, roadways, utilities, and
other infrastructure connected therewith.”
Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann has estimated that Urschel could spend at least
$3 million to build a bridge over Coffee Creek, to make its site accessible;
and some $2 million on sewer and water infrastructure.
Meanwhile, the EDC—comprised of citizen Paul Shinn and Town Council Members
Jeff Trout, R-2nd, and Nick Walding, R-3rd—also voted to hold a public
hearing on the bond ordinance at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 4.
The council, for its part, voted to retain the services of Shanahan &
Shanahan as bond counsel and the London Witte Group as financial consultant
at a cost not to exceed $50,000 each. Both firms “have been working on this
for months without knowing if they would get paid,” Lukmann noted.
They will not, however, be paid with municipal dollars, Lukmann
added, but with the proceeds from the bond issuance.
At each meeting, Bob Baker, Urschel’s director of real estate, introduced
the company’s executive team, beginning with President Bob Urschel and
Vice-president Rick Urschel; then Chief Operating Officer Al Kurfman, Chief
Financial Officer Dan Marchetti, and Director of Manufacturing Bill Schott.
Also in attendance: Matt Reardon of SEH and Phil Faccenda of Barnes
Thornburg, working with Urschel Laboratories.
Then everybody said hey.
“We’re looking forward to many, many years once the project is completed and
up and running,” Trout said. “We’ll work hard with you over the next few
months to get this project going.”
“It was a huge team effort by a lot of people,” Trout added later. “There
were some incredible discussions and ideas batted around. And we came up
with a win-win solution.”
“We’d like to thank you for making us your home,” said Sharon Darnell,
D-4th, “for your world-class company to become part of our neighborhood.”
“We really appreciate Urschel staying in Porter County and coming to
Chesterton,” said Member Jim Ton, R-1st. “And we look forward to many years
of working together.”
“Our family welcomes your family,” said Member Emerson DeLaney, R-5th.
From the floor Heather Ennis, executive director of the Chesterton/Duneland
Chamber of Commerce, said that the business community is “absolutely
thrilled the project landed in Chesterton. And to town officials Ennis
expressed her gratitude. “We couldn’t be happier with the work you all did
to make this possible. You did us proud.”
“As a member of the Duneland Economic Development Company and a citizen of
Chesterton I want to add my thank-you,” Patricia Carlisle said. “Thank you.
Thank you very much. We’re very excited.”
Mark Chamberlain, a Chesterton resident and member of the Indiana Chamber of
Commerce, took note of the “secondary and tertiary” benefits of the project
but also urged town officials to “keep planning up to speed to support the
business and to encourage similar development.”
Joe Grossbauer, a Chesterton businessman, added his appreciation to
officials. “I want to thank the council, each and every one of you,” he
said. “It’s clear the council had to come together. I also want to
personally thank Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann. This would not have happened
And Paul Tharp, a member of the Chesterton Redevelopment Commission, joked
that he’s been driving by the Urschel Laboratories facility in Valpo all his
life. “And until recently I thought it was a chemical plant,” he said. “I
want to welcome the Urschels and their extended family, all 300-plus of
them. I’m thrilled you guys are coming to Chesterton.”
For the record, Urschel Laboratories is the world’s leader in the
manufacture of precision food-cutting equipment, with a European subsidiary
and direct offices throughout Asia.