Lane County Considers Proposed RV Factory in Junction City

by Wendy on December 1, 2015

by: Saul Hubbard (
Sources say Winnebago Industries would open the factory, hiring 200 people

The Lane County Board of Commissioners will consider on Tuesday giving a $100,000 economic development grant to a motor home manufacturing company that hopes to open a factory in Junction City and hire 200 employees.

At the company’s request, county officials on Monday didn’t disclose its name, the industry it’s in or the exact location it’s considering.

But the company is Winne­bago Industries, the iconic Iowa-based recreational vehicle manufacturer, according to two sources with knowledge of the proposal who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the deal.

Several other sources said they’d heard rumors that Winnebago was the company involved but hadn’t received direct confirmation. A spokesman for Business Oregon, the state’s economic development department, confirmed that the company seeking the county incentive is a motor home manufacturer.

A Winnebago spokesman didn’t return a call seeking comment Monday.

The unnamed company plans initially to hire 200 employees at the plant, according to a memo to the county board from the county’s economic development manager, Glenda Poling. The average wage would be $16 to $20 an hour — or $33,280 to $41,600 a year — with a “full benefits package,” she wrote.

The proposed county money would be used to help pay for unspecified infrastructure costs needed for the facility, Poling wrote.

The RV maker is planning to buy the Junction City property that formerly housed Country Coach’s manufacturing wing before that motor home company declared bankruptcy in 2009, multiple sources said Monday.

Ron Lee, the property owner who now runs a Country Coach service center at the site, didn’t respond to a request for comment Monday.

The property is in the southeast corner of Junction City, off East First Avenue.

Winnebago is expected to formally announce the project Tuesday morning at the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s national convention in Louisville, Ky., according to multiple sources.

County spokeswoman Devon Ashbridge said Monday that a representative of the company involved will be at Tuesday’s county board meeting to discuss the firm’s plans and explain why it needs the subsidy.

In her memo, Poling wrote that the project, dubbed “Project New Deal” by the county, would help “bring back to life a local industry sector that was hugely diminished during the Great Recession. Many of the jobs lost during that recession have not been replaced, leaving many skilled and talented workers without jobs in which to sustain themselves and their families.”

Poling also wrote that the firm involved “was an industry leader” that is “well-known around the country.”

Lane County has a history as a hub of RV manufacturing. In the early and mid-2000s, it was one of the nation’s premier RV manufacturing centers, with major factories in Junction City and Coburg, and numerous parts suppliers and contractors throughout the county. But the industry was hit hard by the recession, with many local factories closing.

The Junction City move would be significant for Winne­bago, whose manufacturing operations have always been heavily concentrated at a huge factory in Forest City, Iowa — the largest motor home plant in the world. Unlike many other RV makers, Winnebago manufactures most of its motor home parts itself. It is among the market leaders in several different RV classifications.

It’s unclear whether the company would receive additional government incentives to locate in Junction City. Ryan Frank, a spokesman for Business Oregon, said the agency “is working on” a possible state incentive package, but that nothing has been approved yet.

Junction City Administrator Jason Knope declined to comment on the proposal Monday.

Poling’s memo doesn’t lay out what conditions, if any, the unnamed company would need to meet to receive the county grant. However, the proposed board order would authorize county staff “to negotiate a letter of agreement (with the company) which includes reporting elements and a recapture clause” for the funds. County Administrator Steve Mokrohisky could then sign that agreement without needing to go back to the board.

The incentive would come from the county’s share of state video lottery revenue, which is earmarked for local economic development projects.

The board in September approved $90,000 worth of grants for the Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network, or RAIN, a local “business accelerator” and for Gary Foglio Trucking near Florence.

If the commissioners approve the new $100,000 incentive, the county’s video lottery fund would have just under $60,000 for other projects through next summer.

To read the original article, go to Lane County considers $100,000 incentive for proposed RV factory in Junction City

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