ELWOOD— Mayor Ron Arnold was wearing a Warner Bodies T-shirt on Friday when the city formally finalized the legal agreements with Warner Bodies.

“I am personally very grateful to each and every one of you,” Arnold told a group of community leaders who gathered for the official signing of paperwork with the company. “We can do amazing things if we just work together."

The Noblesville-based company is relocating its headquarters and manufacturing facilities to Elwood, bringing a total of 150 jobs to the area within a five-year time frame. Company officials said they will retain about 60 of their current employees when they relocate. Warner also plans to invest more than $4 million in new manufacturing equipment.

The city has given the company a 10-year tax abatement on the new equipment.

Rick Manasek, president of Warner Bodies, said his company has already invested $1.3 million in renovations which are scheduled to be finalized Oct. 1. The company plans to begin its operations in January and close its Noblesville facility by 2015.

“We hope we can contribute to make Elwood a better place,” Manasek said. “We can’t wait to get started and we will stay here forever as far as I’m concerned.”

The city has an unusual agreement with Warner allowing them to accept applications on behalf of the company for the jobs being created. Arnold said the city has already received more than 1,000 applications.

“The method to my madness is to have as many people as we can from Elwood have an opportunity to work in Elwood,” Arnold said. “We want them to be given the first opportunity. If we don’t create a pathway for our own citizens, we have not been successful.”

Officials said they will have a series of information sessions for the applicants, and official interviews for the new positions will begin in January.

“This partnership gives a lot of hope to a lot of kids,” said Tami Davis, a career and education coordinator for Hinds Career Center. “To have those kind of career opportunities right outside their front door — it has been awhile since we have had that kind of hope.”

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