Manufacturing is on its way back to the Brown County town of Helmsburg, where an old elementary school that for 20 years housed a sock factory will soon be the base for manufacturing natural timber frames and other construction materials.

Sharon Rivenbark bought a loom, established a business called For Bare Feet, and started making socks in a room at the former Helmsburg Elementary building.

In September 2011, a fire damaged one of the auxiliary buildings at the site. That and the company’s growth prompted a change of location — For Bare Feet had 160 employees when it moved to a disused auto parts plant in Martinsville at the end of 2011.

Rivenbark donated the Helmsburg land and manufacturing plant to the county, which for two years has sought a way to use the 29,000-square-foot space. County officials did not want the buildings to fall into disrepair, and were eager to sell them so the property could get back on the tax rolls. The structures and 22 acres of land they sit on had generated more than $40,000 annually in taxes for the county.

The week of Thanksgiving, county officials chose the Beamery Group, currently in Whitestown, as the winning bidder on the property. The company offered $417,000 for the site, and paid the county 10 percent up front.

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