Chesterton Tribune

 
 

Town welcomes Urschels; first official step taken

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By KEVIN NEVERS

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 without him.”

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.

 

Posted 1/15/2013