GOVERNOR VISITS: 80/20 expansion to generate 97 jobs

COLUMBIA CITY — Indiana Governor Mike Pence was in town Wednesday to help announce an expansion for 80/20 which will create almost 100 new jobs.The modular framing supplier will invest $11 million to build an additional 31,000 square feet onto its existing 250,000 square-foot facility.Its 38-acre campus is located five miles east of Columbia City on U.S. 30. Construction of the new addition, which will house a training auditorium and expanded office space, is expected to begin in April.“While we continue to pursue the attraction of new business, it’s equally as important to maintain an environment that allows existing companies like 80/20 to prosper,” said Pence. “80/20 was founded here and their trend of growth is proof that our economic climate, robust infrastructure and superior workforce make the Hoosier State work for business.”Pence added he was impressed with the company.“What a cool company,” he said. “This is one of the coolest companies I have ever been in.”Born in 1989 in a 3,000 square-foot space in Fort Wayne, the company moved to its Columbia City campus in 1996. 80/20’s modular aluminum framing components, known as “the industrial erector set,” are configured for safety enclosures, workstations, CNC equipment and exhibits among other uses. The company’s Whitley County campus is currently home to 329 full-time employees.“I love it here,” said Don Wood, 80/20 president and CEO.“Not only is this a great part of the country, but the central location of our business is very important. We’re right in the heart of the market and transportation of our product is key. We’ve experienced great support in Indiana and Whitley County as they foster the growth of manufacturing companies.”County officials worked to help with the expansion as well, approving a tax abatement for the company in February. Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered 80/20 Inc. up to $650,000 in conditional tax credits and up to $75,000 in training grants based on the company’s job creation plans. These tax credits are performance-based, meaning until Hoosiers are hired, the company is not eligible to claim incentives.“On behalf of the Whitley County Commissioners, I commend 80/20’s leadership for their ongoing commitment to our community and congratulate the entire 80/20 team for reaching this milestone,” said Whitley County Commissioner Chairman George Schrumpf. “This will be a truly transforming process.”All of the leaders touted the local investment the company has made. Ninety percent of employees of 80/20 live in the area. Wood was congratulated by the governor for having the courage to start the company by himself with one building. Having passed his 80th birthday, Wood said he wants to keep going.“I ain’t retiring,” he said with a laugh. “We continue to grow, and they say you can live to be 100. Here is the first step.”