Councilman learns about T&B Tube Co. as company seeks to expand Gary plant
Crusader Staff Report
T&B Tube Co. Inc. wanted to expand its plant in Gary next year, and it sought a tax abatement and promised to create more jobs in the city.
As it turned out, the company had many jobs, but few went to Gary residents. Out of 103 employees, only 16, or 16 percent were from Gary.
T&B Tube’s work force took center stage at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting, where the company was called out for employing few Gary residents while seeking a tax abatement for its expansion plan. After agreeing to a deal to hire more Gary residents, the Council voted 7-1 to grant T&B Tube Co. a tax abatement.
Councilwoman Rebecca Wyatt voted against the move. Councilman Michael “Coach” Protho, D-2nd, was absent.
Councilman Herb Smith, D-At Large, and Carolyn Rogers, D-4th, both said they had concerns and thought about voting “no.” The two were swayed by Council President Ronald Brewer’s demand for T&B Tube to fill all 10 new jobs with Gary residents.
Before the approval, Brewer added a provision that would require T&B Tube Co. to hire 10 new employees as part of their expansion plan. They also must maintain those employees as part of the agreement.
The abatement allows T&B Tube to get a tax break up to $5,220,626 on the cost of personal property investments, including machinery and equipment that are installed during the expansion.
In 2015, T&B Tube opened a plant in Gary at 4000 E. 7th Ave. According to its website, T&B Tube cuts to length steel tube for purchase displays, outdoor products and tube fabricators. The company reportedly spent $12.6 million to build the plant, which initially employed 41 people. Since then, the workforce has grown to 103 employees and the company seeks to hire 10 more people for its expansion. T&B Tube said it’s currently searching to fill three new jobs and will create seven additional positions this year. T&B Tube said the jobs pay an average of $18.59 per hour.
Rebecca Wyatt, D-1st, said she supported T&B tube because the company has benefitted Gary at large, and her district, where the company is located.
“They took an abandoned area and cleaned it up, while adding more and more jobs,” she said in one news report.
Brewer said it’s “terrible” that so few of the existing employees are Gary residents. “I appreciate their investment (in Gary), but it’s not just about that,” he said.