By David Slone
WARSAW – Wildman Business Group continues to grow, and on Monday, Aug. 1, the Warsaw-based company requested a 10-year tax abatement on real and personal property from Warsaw.
The City Council unanimously approved the request.
Warsaw Community Economic and Development Director Jeremy Skinner said the tax abatement was for improvements Wildman was going to make on their facilities at 800 S. Buffalo St.
“The improvements include additional office space and new equipment in the amount of $2.5 million total. They’re estimating six new jobs with total estimated salary of around $300,000,” he said.
Councilwoman Diane Quance asked if all the new equipment was going into the new addition or if some of it was being added to the already-existing property.
Claudia Keirn, Wildman director of finance, said it was mainly office equipment in the new part of the facilities that was being renovated right now as part of stage one of the renovations.
“So, we’ll tear down the old offices and expand the plant operations into there so there’s a new washing machine we’ve ordered and there will be a clean storage, so like a towel storage and all of that, will be in the ceiling when we’re done,” Keirn said.
Quance said they were vacating one part to repurpose it.
“Right,” Keirn said. “The whole purpose of doing this renovation is so that we can expand the plant even farther.”
She said they’re estimating another $1 million in plant renovations.
Councilman Mike Klondaris asked if the company had been sold or if Wildman was still locally owned.
Keirn stated they’re still locally owned. It was sold in 2012 to the family, she said. Brent and Karen Wildman were the sole owners, and now their son, Josh, is the chief executive officer. Three of Josh’s brothers-in-law own equal shares, she explained.
She noted they just did an acquisition near Hammond and are “actively growing, growing very quickly.”
The real property is under a different ownership called Buffalo Street LLC, which is owned by the same owners as Wildman, she said. They had a 10-year lease on the building from Brent and Karen, but once that lease was up, Wildman purchased the building.
Quance made the motion to approve the tax abatement, Councilwoman Cindy Dobbins seconded it and it was approved 7-0.
Quance said, “Thank you all to your continued investment in our community.”
The Council also unanimously approved an ordinance on first reading for redistricting the Council districts. The second reading and public hearing on the ordinance will be at the Council’s Aug. 15 meeting at 6 p.m.
Mayor Joe Thallemer said the redistricting was something that came along only once every 10 years.
“The challenge is to look at our Census data, look at the disparity created since our last Census and redistrict into continuously contiguous districts that are compact, don’t cross precinct lines and contain nearly as possible equal population. That’s the challenge,” he said.
With the 2020 Census, there was disparity between districts 4 and 5 of 49%, he said. “So that 5th district is vastly underrepresented at this point,” he said.
The redistricting has to be completed by the end of the year as city elections are in 2023.
A committee came up with options and on May 5 the Council had a workshop to consider those options. After the Council decided on a redistricting map, Thallemer said it was put out on the city’s website, promoted on the city’s social media and posted in the City Hall hallway. The mayor’s office has received no comments on the redistricting map.
After the Council approves the redistricting map on second reading, it will then go back to the county, which then will forward it on to the state.
He said, under the new map, Districts 1 and 4 “expand to the north to absorb that fifth district that was overpopulated.”
After some further discussion, Klondaris made a motion to approve the map on first reading, Council President Jack Wilhite seconded it and it was approved 7-0.