Bosch plans large expansion in Albion

ALBION — Manufacturer Robert Bosch LLC was looking to expand one of its facilities in the United States.

In a competition featuring multiple factories in multiple states, Bosch chose its Albion location.

On Wednesday, the Albion Plan Commission unanimously OK’d a building permit which would see the plant on Progress Drive grow from 162,000 square feet to 264,200 square feet.

“This is incredible news for the town,” said Vickie Jellison, the Albion Town Council president and a member of the plan commission. “It is really phenomenal for the town of Albion.”

Bosch project manager Gustavo Pacheco credited the cooperation Bosch received from the town and Town Manager Tena Woenker in particular with helping the Albion location come out on top.

“We appreciate the support from Tena,” Pacheco said during Wednesday’s meeting. “We were competing with other Bosch sites.”

According to documents filed in the permit application process, the new structure will add manufacturing and warehousing space.

Company officials at Wednesday’s meeting were not prepared to release the amount of new employees who would be added.

Founded in Albion in 1993, Bosch currently has approximately 280 employees.

Albion-based LCI Construction Inc. was awarded the contract to construct the expansion, which will cost in the neighborhood of $5 million, according to documents.

LCI’s Matthew Young said the hope is for construction to begin in August with a tentative completion date of June 2021.

Young showed detailed plans for the expansion to the plan commission, showing a projected 20,000-square-foot expansion to the west of the current building at 1613 Progress Drive and an 82,000 square foot addition which will stretch from the east wall of the current building all the way to the guard shack.

Young said designers have been working with the Noble County Surveyor’s Office to develop a plan to handle the water runoff from the new development. A 75,000-cubic-foot retention pond will be planned to the east of the building, coming within 30 feet of C.R. 150E.

Young said a large berm will be constructed around the pond.

Having established a regional presence in 1906 in North America, the Bosch Group employed 34,600 associates in more than 100 locations, as of Dec. 31, 2019. In 2019, Bosch generated consolidated sales of $14.4 billion in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Bosch employs roughly 400,000 associates worldwide, and had sales of approximately 77.7 billion euros in 2019.

Manufacturing was hit hard during the recent state shutdown over COVID-19, but local industries are recovering.

Noble County’s unemployment rate surged during the initial shutdown to almost 30%, with many of those job losses occurring in manufacturing, but then plummeted quickly as soon as industries were allowed to get back to work.

Prior to the pandemic, unemployment in Noble County was at historic lows, with many employers reporting that they struggled to find the workforce needed to fill open positions.

The Noble County Economic Development Corp. has stated that workforce issues will be a top priority to address coming out of the pandemic, with hopes to skill up and secure more workers for the firms that need them.