Northeast Indiana update: the region's top business stories.

Author:Mayer, Kathy
Position:Regional Report Northeast

Steel, airbags top news.

Two Columbia City-area industries are expanding, reports Dorinda Heiden, president of Whitley County Economic Development Corp.

A $37 million investment will double the size of airbag manufacturer Autoliv ASP Inc.'s facility, soon to cover 240,000 square feet. Construction got under way in July. By the end of this decade, Autoliv will more than triple today's workforce of 320, hiring another 680. That's up from just 49 when the company came to town in 1997.

Autoliv is also adding a new product line, inflatable curtains for autos, which provide additional protection in rollover and side impact crashes.

Steel Dynamics Inc. is spending $17 million to add 40,000 square feet and new equipment as it expands into steel rail production and boosts employment by 20 from today's 415.

International arrivals

Two international companies are now calling Allen County home: Olde York Potato Chips and Shimizu Densetsu Kogvo (SEAVAC), reports Anita Yamanaka, vice president of operations at the Fort Wayne-Allen County Economic Development Alliance.

A Canadian company, Olde York chose Fort Wayne for its U.S. headquarters and manufacturing, spending $5 million to open. The snack food maker will employ about 90 by 2006.

The first U.S. production site for Japan-based SEAVAC, a hard thin film coating and heat treatment equipment company, is now going up in Fort Wayne's Airport Business Center. About 24 will work in the $3.75 million facility, supplying regional automotive, tooling and biomedical companies.

Also being welcomed: Berne Apparel Co., which makes work and hunting clothing. The company is combining six northeast Indiana distribution and quality control facilities into a single, 150,000-square-foot site in New Haven, bringing 50 jobs to the community by yearend 2005.

In Huntington, a new company, Transmetco Corp. has built a smelter for recycling aluminum and hopes to begin work by the end of this year. It will employ 30 initially, reports Bob Brown, president of the Huntington County Chamber of Commerce.

RVs on a roll. Two LaGrange County recreational vehicle manufacturers are growing, reports Lincoln Schrock, director of Indiana Northeast Development. K-Z Inc. near Middlebury, which employs 350 who make towable travel trailers, is spending $4 million on an expansion and adding 150 employees. And Dutchmen Manufacturing is coming to Shipshewana, building a $1.5 million plant that will employ 150 making wood-frame RVs.

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