KENDALLVILLE — City council members approved tax abatements for two expanding Kendallville industries, who combined will add more than $6 million in new equipment at their plants.

The council unanimously approved a 10-year tax break for a $5.36 million expansion at Flint & Walling, while also giving an OK to a five-year break for Reliable Tool and Machine, which is adding $1.05 million in new equipment.

Flint & Walling, Kendallville’s oldest manufacturer, is upgrading $5,364,000 in equipment, including new motor equipment, die cast equipment, oven, machining equipment, inspection equipment, shell equipment and production tooling items.

Flint & Walling, which already employs 263 people and expects the updates could add another 20 positions to the company, with an average annual salary of $47,000 per year, about $22.60 per hour.

The 10-year sliding-scale tax break would result in tax savings of about $297,320, with the company paying about $199,631 in taxes over the decade, a savings of about 60% of its property tax bill.

For Reliable, it’s planned $1.05 million project would include purchasing a horizontal CNC mill, twin turret lathe, machine-tending robot, CNC cold saw and two electric forklifts.

The expansion could add five new positions at Reliable, with average annual wage of $45,000 per year, about $21.63 per hour.

Reliable President Chuck Drerup noted that hiring continues to be a major struggle for local industries. Drerup said his company has hired 108 workers so far this year, but only 20 of those people have stayed on to this point.

Reliable has hiked wages about 14% this year in an effort to attract and retain labor as it competes with numerous other firms vying for the limited local labor force.

Reliable’s five-year tax abatement will result in $35,785 in savings as compared to $19,782 paid over the five years, a savings of about 64%.

Both companies received unanimous approval, with thanks from council members for their continuing investment in Kendallville.

Flint & Walling has purchased $5 million in new equipment in three separate buys from May 2018 through November 2020, while Reliable had made $760,000 total in upgrades in purchases made in August 2018 and January 2021.
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