Construction begins in business park

MOUNT COMFORT — Site preparation is underway in Mount Comfort for a 420,000-square-foot cooler-freezer distribution facility that officials said will bring about 200 jobs to the county when it’s completed.

Nearly 80 acres are being cleared at the Axcess 70 Business Park on North Distribution Way north of County Road 300N between Sparks Road and County Road 500W for the facility.

Tippmann Construction recently began work on the yearlong project that is slated for completion at the end of this year, weather permitting, project manager Jared Pavliscak said.

In October, the Hancock County Council granted an $8.8 million tax break over 10 years to Tippmann, a Fort Wayne-based company whose holdings include a commercial real estate company and Interstate Warehousing, a cold-storage facility enterprise, which plans to operate in the center.

The project contemplates a $64 million investment by Tippmann in the cold-storage warehouse that would bring some 200 jobs to the county with a reported $6.3 million in annual salaries. Jobs will average about $15 per hour, company officials told the county council.

Hancock Economic Development Council Executive Director Skip Kuker said the company would still pay taxes under the tax break given by the county in the amount of $8.2 million over the next 10 years.

Heavy equipment from Carmel-based Gradex Inc. lumbered over the site Wednesday, pushing dirt and digging to connect to sewer tie-ins, and crews were expected to begin pouring the facility’s slab and laying out office space by week’s end, Pavliscak said.

Though work has begun in earnest, final details of the project are still being worked out, Kuker said.

“I’m quite excited about the potential warehouse and eager to see it come to fruition,” Kuker said Wednesday. “I’m eager to make announcements, but it’s too early in the maturation of this deal because of ongoing negotiations. The nuances are still in flux.”

In addition to Gradex, Tippmann will employ a number of area subcontractors and tradesman to finish the project.

“We’ll use local tradesman,” Pavliscak said. “We have a lot of local contacts.”

According to the firm’s website, the Mount Comfort cold-storage will be the 11th Hoosier project, the nearest other facilities being located in Shelbyville and Indianapolis. Tippmann’s construction work extends throughout the country.

As construction moves from moving dirt to pouring concrete slab, steel erection and trades, Pavliscak said activity at the site will begin to pick up.

“It’s going to get a lot busier out here,” he said.