On the Beat in Bluffton

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Wells Co. Economic Development director prepares statement for commissioners

The Wells County Commissioners approved by the vote of 2-1 the use of $36,000 in County Economic Development Income Tax money for the location to Ossian of German manufacturer Haldrup.

Learn more about the meeting in the Tuesday, Oct. 21, News-Banner.

Following is Wells County Economic Development Director Tim Ehlerding's prepared statement for the commissioners Monday:


There is no doubt the relationship between the Wells County Commissioners and the Wells County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development is as strong as it has been for quite some time.  Your willingness to support economic development and the efforts to find and attract good paying jobs for our Wells County families is appreciated.  Thank you as always for your efforts.

We now have the opportunity to bring to Wells County a company that will provide jobs that far exceed the average Wells County wage.  This is Wells County’s chance to partner with a firm that will create jobs that tells our children, “Wells County is a great place to stay, and a great place to return to if you’ve left.”  This project is exactly why you as Commissioners signed a contract with the Wells Chamber of Commerce and Economic development…to retain and assist those industries already calling Wells County home, and to find the next new community partner that will provide high paying jobs for Wells County residents.

Haldrup USA has announced they will be locating in Wells County, investing $13 million dollars over several year and employing 65 friends and neighbors at an average wage of $23.80 per hour.  This is $6.12 more than the average wage of $17.68 currently found in Wells County.  They are agriculture related, which provides even more support for one of the largest industries already located in our county.  They will invest $13 million of their own dollars on a facility that will be the first foreign direct investment in Wells County in quite some time.  This project opens up door to future foreign direct investment not previously accessible by our county.

To assure this company called Wells County home to their North and South American operations, incentives were necessary.  The Ossian Redevelopment Commission will be working with Halrup to develop a package that utilizes the newest Tax Increment Finance district in Wells County and the funds generated through this program developed through a partnership with the Commissioners.  Personal property and real estate property tax abatements will also be part of the incentive package.  Finally, in order to be competitive with other communities whose incentives packages far exceeded that offered by Wells County, we offered to purchase six acres at a total cost of $72,000 for Haldrup.  To date, the Town of Ossian, the Ossian Development Corporation, and Wells County Chamber and Economic Development have each agreed to be partners in purchasing this property to assure Haldrup’s investment and creation of jobs.

Please understand, our offer was in no way the strongest from those that submitted an offer in Northeast Indiana.  Having two local contacts became a necessary key to the chance of landing this significant employer.  We would not be here today if it weren’t for those contacts.

I am here today to request the Wells County Commissioners to utilize $36,000 from the CEDIT revenues you have earmarked for economic development.  This is half of the overall land acquisition cost. 

By approving this request, you will join forces with the Town of Ossian, the Ossian Development Corporation, and Wells County Chamber and Economic Development to bring a $13 million dollar investment, and 65 new high paying jobs which will generate over $3 million in salaries annually.  Your approving this is in every way a justifiable expenditure of County Economic Development Income Tax revenues.  It falls within the guidelines you offered me as the Economic Development Director when you earmarked the annual $200,000 allowance.  It says openly as Commissioners that you support bringing in high paying jobs for Wells County residents. 

There are issues to be solved and details to be worked out, all of which will be presented to you in open forums for your review.  You as Commissioners alone control the CEDIT funds, without input or outside control from other legislative or funding bodies. 

There may be discussions regarding a conflict of interest with Councilmen Stoller and Mossburg.  I believe upon reviewing the state code regarding conflict of interest, no violation of the conflict of interest legislation will take place.  There is no doubt there is a monetary gain to be realized by Councilmen Stoller and Mossburg in having Haldrup land in Wells County or at least Indiana.  Councilman Stoller will at some time become an employee of Haldrup as their Managing Director, and Councilman Mossburg by leasing them space on a temporary basis for their operations while they construct their new facility in the Ossian Industrial Park.  The law is very clear that both most likely will gain from this new industry.  But this in and of itself doesn’t violate the code.  The Indiana code states:

            It is not an offense under this section if any of the following apply:
            …A public servant makes a disclosure that meets the requirements of subsection (d) or (e) and is:  not a member or on the staff of the governing body (Commissioners) empowered to contract or purchase on behalf of the governmental entity (Wells County), and functions and performs duties for the governmental entity (Commissioners) unrelated to the contract or purchase…(35-44.1-1-4)

I have requested both Councilman Stoller and Mossburg to complete Indiana form 236, “Uniform Conflict of Interest Disclosure Statement,” at their earliest possible convenience.  This is the standard form anyone in public service completes to disclose potential issues. 

I believe this shows, with the proper disclosure, that no violation of the conflict code exists. 

Not only all of these items: 65 new high paying jobs, a $13 million investment, our first direct foreign investment in years, $3 million in annual payroll, and an economic win for Wells County…not only are these the reason to approve this $36,000 request… but it comes down to this…saying yes to this proposal makes smart business sense, it continues to move Wells County forward, it shows your support for the largest economic development news to come to Wells County in the past five years, and all in all…it’s the right thing to do.

I thank you for your consideration in growing the Wells County economy. 

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