It is a proud moment when a region company announces a $15 Million expansion project and the creation of more than 100 new full time jobs. The August 24th groundbreaking of the Polycon Industries expansion was a personal victory for its executive team, family of employees and a community-wide celebration of economic development.
Polycon President, Berle Blitstein said, “I know the motto of the state of Indiana is ‘a state that works’ but that is an understatement. I believe Indiana is the state that works for the people. Indiana and Merrillville have been our partners for almost twenty years.”
Blitstein thanked the people of Polycon. “They put out a consistent product on a day to day basis and know how to keep our customers happy. The new facility and new equipment will be a tremendous boost for this company.” Polycon’s growing business and customer demand required expansion. Construction started in July and operations are scheduled to begin in February of 2017.
Shawn Pettit, Merrillville Councilman Ward 6 addressed the importance of the industrial corridor anchored by Polycon and their continued commitment to remaining and expanding within the Merrillville footprint. The town offered local incentives plus repaired and improved Colorado Street in preparation for project, making an investment in infrastructure to drive potential business opportunities in that sector.
Pettit said “Merrillville appreciates our existing businesses and is proud to help them grow and expand their operations. When quality companies like Polycon, look to hire more employees at a good wage and make a significant investment in our community, we step up to help them prosper. It is imperative to support their efforts as they are integral in growing our economy.”
Polycon is hopeful that 10 percent of the new hires will be Merrillville residents, a goal that the town leaders are assisting with through a job fair on September 7th and 8th. Polycon manufactures molded high density polyethylene stock and custom plastic containers.
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered performance based incentives: $635,000 in tax credits and $30,000 in grants for employee training.
The Lake County IN Economic Alliance [LCEA] guided Polycon leadership through the whole process. “My people called Karen and Don first because they know how to work with companies, communities, and government to get the job done,” Blitztein stated.
LCEA is the county focused non-profit economic development organization and in that role represents all the communities and unincorporated areas in attracting jobs and investment while retaining and expanding current operations, and creating opportunities for Lake County, Indiana.
Karen Lauerman, CEO of the LCEA, further explained her organization’s role, “Being one of the first calls Polycon made regarding the expansion project, LCEA immediately toured the facility, gathered the right people for the project and managed the process to ensure a positive outcome for the company, community and other partners. Don [Koliboski, LCEA Vice President of Economic Development] and I are pleased that our efforts resulted in jobs and investment impacting Merrillville, Lake County and the state.”
Indiana’s Lieutenant Governor Eric Holcomb joined the groundbreaking ceremony as a representative of the state’s role in and commitment to Polycon Industries’ expansion project. Holcumb is pleased LCEA is taking a leadership role, pulling communities together under one coordinated and consolidated effort for economic development, bringing projects like Polycon to fruition
“We’re just so glad that Polycon made that decision 16 years ago,” said Holcomb, “and moved to our great state, and really helped blaze that trail that many have been following from Illinois to Indiana over the last decade. They saw what was possible out on the horizon here in Northwest Indiana. Not only expanding, but bringing economic growth to Lake County will add to Indiana’s already record setting workforce.”
The Polycon expansion became a collaboration among many organizations, including Bank of America and Chester Incorporated. “We’re very pleased with the employment that it provides our company as well as all the trades that are going to be involved with this project through the next several months,” said Chester’s president and CEO, Pete Peuquet.
The Crossroads Chamber of Commerce President Sue Reed was able to expand on that. “One hundred new jobs plus construction jobs will have a huge impact, helping to reduce the employment rating even more, giving people disposable income to spend in our restaurants and our retail. It’s a great investment.”
Blitztein is looking forward to seeing the company grow further in a few years, with plans already brewing for a third sister building.