Ultra Electronics-USSI buys building to expand

COLUMBIA CITY — Ultra Electronics-USSI, local manufacturer of electronic, electro-mechanical, and hydro-mechanical sensor and sensor systems with applications for the military, homeland security and commercial use, requested a tax abatement of the county council Wednesday morning. The company, located in the Park 30 Business Center, has grown so much recently, they are expanding operations to the old Autoliv building, recently purchased. Whitley County Council approved transferring current property tax abatements and providing additional property tax abatement.Ultra Electronics-USSI foresees a 10 percent increase in employment in the next year and by 2012, a 10 to 15 percent increase. USSI, which designs, develops and manufactures advanced military sensor and sensor systems as well as audio products, will invest $3.85 million to expand and equip its facilities at Park 30 Business Center, a state-certified shovel-ready site, to accommodate the US manufacturing and refurbishment of Ultra Electronics’ line of high-pressure air systems for use on military aircraft.“Following our announcement earlier this year that USSI would become home to Ultra Electronics Precision Air Systems, it became clear that additional manufacturing and engineering space would be needed to accommodate our continued growth,” said Ultra Electronics-USSI president Roland Fritts, “Our team continues to evaluate and pursue additional opportunities to diversify our manufacturing and engineering capabilities.”Ultra Electronics-USSI is considered an important player in Whitley County, providing jobs and keeping business in the area. Councilman William Overdeer, after the unanimous vote to grant the abatement, stated, “(we’re) very pleased you’re expanding.”USSI is a supplier of sonobuoys and surveillance systems for domestic and international anti-submarine warfare. In 2009, the company expanded its business to include communications equipment for first responders and the manufacturing of mass notification and acoustic hailing products. Fritts, showed off a portable public address system no bigger than a cardboard file box used in open-air settings or off Coast Guard ships—to mention just a couple of the wide-ranging possibilities. The system, which puts out 110 decibels, operates on a standard, 12-volt DeWalt battery.The company has grown to employ nearly 400 salary and hourly employees in Whitley County and plans to begin hiring additional skilled technicians and quality associates once facility upgrades are complete in the second half of 2011.“USSI is one of the largest and fastest growing employers in Whitley County,” said County Commissioner president Michael Schrader. “We applaud the company’s announcement and look forward to working with their local team in the years ahead.”As part of the transaction, Autoliv Americas, a division of Autoliv Inc. will continue to lease a portion of the building to operate a crossdock distribution operation at the company’s former manufacturing facility at 4868 E Park 30 Drive.USSI is active in the Northeast Indiana Defense Industry Association (www.nidiaonline.org), an industry association established to develop and improve the local defense community’s ability to attract and retain the required talent to effectively execute business and improved interaction between the defense industry and suppliers in the region.The company is also accessing funds available from the Talent Initiative to accelerate the development of the company’s workforce and talent resources. The Talent Initiative involves four critical initiatives: retraining at least 1,200 adult workers in Northeast Indiana; enhancement of the Advanced Manufacturing program at Ivy Tech-Northeast; expansion of the systems engineering and wireless technology programs at Indiana University-Purdue University- Fort Wayne (IPFW); and creation of New Tech High Schools within school corporations in northeast Indiana.