Andy Knight, The Herald Bulletin
October 18, 2023
ANDERSON — Groundbreaking for a $20 million manufacturing facility along Raible Avenue is another milestone in redevelopment of the west side, city officials said Wednesday.
Executives from FITT USA, an Italian manufacturer of hoses for residential and commercial use, joined economic development leaders and other community stakeholders for a groundbreaking ceremony to announce construction of the company’s new North American headquarters.
“This is an opportunity to transform a vacant property into a tax-generating facility that will benefit our city’s economic growth,” Anderson Mayor Thomas Broderick Jr. said. “Diversification of industry is essential in an economy that will last over time.”
The 150,000-square-foot facility will occupy 36 acres of a brownfield site that was formerly a parking lot for a General Motors Guide Division auto parts plant. FITT USA is making an initial investment of $20 million in the project, and company executives plan to hire at least 100 workers starting late next year, with an annual payroll estimated at $4.4 million.
Company executives said the site’s proximity to Sirmax, one of its leading suppliers, as well as the area’s robust manufacturing background, were leading factors in their decision to locate in Anderson.
“We figure that we’ve found very good conditions in order (to hire workers) for this type of work for our company,” said Alessandro Mezzalira, CEO of FITT USA. “For new innovation, for technology, for everything — it’s wonderful for us.”
FITT USA purchased the property last December for $200,000 from the RACER Trust, which was formed to sell former GM properties on brownfield sites in Anderson and at locations in 13 other states.
The opportunity to return a former manufacturing site to use was another key consideration.
“Sustainability is very important to our company,” said Michael Hill, vice president of sales and marketing for FITT USA. “One of the reasons that we picked this site is that we can reclaim a site that was previously used.
“We would be able to lower our carbon emissions from shipping product from Europe to the United States by building it here. We’re very, very excited to have this facility.”
Construction has already begun, with preparatory excavation for building foundations slated for next week, according to Greg Winkler, executive director of the Anderson Economic Development Department.
Winkler said the company could expand the facility by another 150,000 square feet, an opportunity executives said they hope pursue by 2032.
Barring delays, construction is expected to be finished by October 2024.
Coupled with the expected opening next year of Needler’s Fresh Market and Ace Hardware at the former Marsh location on Nichol Avenue, Winkler said, investments totaling nearly $40 million are pouring into revitalization efforts on the west side.
“Part of it is retail and commercial. But part of it is good, solid jobs that people will have, and many of them will be five minutes from home,” Winkler said. “They won’t have to drive a long way to get to work. We’re excited about it.”
After the facility is mostly completed, the Anderson Redevelopment Commission has agreed to issue $2 million in bonds, subject to the approval of the Anderson City Council. That contribution is expected to be more than offset by FITT USA’s obligation to pay an estimated $4.4 million in property taxes over the next decade.
“We are confident that the company’s presence here will have a positive impact on Anderson and the surrounding communities,” Indiana Secretary of Commerce David Rosenberg said.