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Steuben fabricator to expand, add 44 jobs

Koester Metals Inc., which makes sheet metal fabrications and enclosures, plans to expand its Steuben County presence, creating up to 44 new jobs over the next several years.

Koester Metals plans to invest $2.7 million to relocate its headquarters and operations from Defiance, Ohio, to its existing 130,000-square-foot plant in Fremont, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. announced Wednesday.

Koester Metals currently employs 16 Hoosiers in Fremont, the IEDC news release said. But the company’s total Fremont employment number is about 30, said David Koenig, executive director of the Steuben County Economic Development Corp.

The number of employees at the Fremont operation, including with the new jobs and workers relocating, could grow to 100 by 2017, Koenig said.

In June 2009, Koester Metals said it would open a manufacturing operation that would create up to 60 jobs in Steuben County, taking over a 130,000-square-foot building at 301 W. Water St.

Koenig said because of the economy in recent years, Koester Metal’s hiring may not have been as aggressive as originally planned.

The current average employee wage is $16.30 hourly; the new jobs are expected to average about $15.50.

Matthew Koester, operations manager of Koester Metals, could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but he said in a news release that the company looks forward to the move.

“While we are blessed to have many 20- and 30-year employees planning to make the move with us, we look to continue growing our family with continued development of the best and brightest workforce available,” Koester said in a written statement.

Koester Metals was founded in 1975 and serves the aerospace, original equipment manufacturing, testing equipment and energy industries.

The state is offering Koester Metals up to $240,000 in conditional tax credits and up to $50,000 in training grants, based on the company’s job creation plans.

The tax credits are performance-based, meaning that until Hoosiers are hired, the company is not eligible to claim incentives.

The town of Fremont will consider additional tax abatement at the request of the Steuben County Economic Development Corp.

Koenig said the abatement proposal has not been outlined, since it does not go to the town council until March 19.

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