German seat manufacturer opening first U.S. facility in Elkhart

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Kiel NA, LLC, a manufacturer of seating systems for the transportation industry, announced plans Tuesday to locate its first U.S. facility here, creating up to 62 new jobs by 2015.

The Nördlingen, Germany-based company, which specializes in seating for buses and trains, will invest $3.78 million to lease and equip a 20,000 square-foot facility located at 4519 Wyland Drive. As part of the project, Kiel will purchase new machinery and information technology equipment for its facility slated to be operational this fall.

"Indiana is known as one of the top jobs-creating locations in America and international leaders like Kiel continue to prosper in the Hoosier State," said Governor Mitch Daniels. "Our low-tax policies, highly-skilled workforce and expansive infrastructure will keep Indiana at the top of the list of best places to do business."

Kiel, which currently employs approximately 750 associates worldwide, plans to begin hiring new administrative, engineering, sales and production associates this October.

"Kiel has become a well-known and trusted strategic partner in the European market. So it only makes sense for us to expand to North America," said Mark Walter, director of finance at Kiel North America. "Indiana is a great location to set up our base of operation due to economic reasons as well its central location in the United States."

Founded in 1945 by Franz Kiel, the Bavarian company began operations as a manufacturer of rigid seating frames before producing adjustable passenger seats known commonly as the "Greyhound Seat." Kiel, which offers prototype creation and testing services for customers, operates eight facilities throughout Europe.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered Kiel NA, LLC up to $300,000 in conditional tax credits and up to $150,000 in training grants based on the company's job creation plans. These tax credits are performance-based, meaning until Hoosiers are hired, the company is not eligible to claim incentives. The city of Elkhart approved additional property tax abatement.

"We are excited about Kiel's investment in our community," said Elkhart Mayor Dick Moore. "This is yet another example of an international company finding Elkhart as the ideal location to manufacture and distribute their products throughout North America. Companies around the globe are recognizing that Elkhart has a unique combination of location, workforce and cost of doing business that makes our community second to none. We couldn't be more pleased."
Since 2005, the IEDC has worked with more than 185 international companies to bring jobs, opportunities and capital investment to communities across Indiana. These companies have projected to create more than 23,000 new jobs and invest more than $9.2 billion in the Hoosier State.

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