IndieDwell, a Boise, Idaho-based startup that manufactures modular homes, announced plans Monday to open a plant in Pueblo in the first quarter of 2020 with up to 200 employees.
The 100,000-square-foot plant will be a remodeled warehouse in downtown Pueblo and at full capacity is expected annually to turn out between 300 and 1,000 one- to four-bedroom homes costing $56,000-$122,000 along Colorado’s Front Range. The company expects to reach full capacity within three years and generate an annual payroll estimated at $16 million. Full-time jobs will pay an average salary of $38,248 and include medical, dental and vision benefits plus 20 days a year of paid time off.
The Pueblo Economic Development Corp. began working with indieDwell early this year and has agreed to provide the company $1.64 million from the city of Pueblo’s half-cent sales tax for economic development, said Jeff Shaw, the economic development group’s president and CEO. The tax funds must still be approved by the Pueblo City Council. The Colorado Economic Development Commission also awarded the company an incentive of up to $684,000 from its strategic fund.
Pete Gombert, indieDwell’s co-founder and executive chairman, cited the region’s need for affordable housing and a robust local work force in selecting Pueblo as the site for the company’s plant.
“Pueblo, like many areas, faces significant shortages in affordable housing but the combination of the quality workforce and dedicated local partners made this happen,” Gombert said Monday in a press release.
Denver-based Gary Community Investments, which invests in philanthropic solutions for Colorado’s low-income children and their families, along with the Colorado Health Foundation introduced indieDwell to PEDCO to begin discussions on the plant.
“PEDCO is trilled to work with Pete Gombert and his team at indieDwell, as well as Gary Community Investments, Colorado Health Foundation and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade, on this incentive project for Pueblo,” Shaw said Monday in a news release. “We look forward to a long relationship with Peter and his team and thank the citizens of Pueblo for making this possible through their continued support of the half cents sales tax.”
Chris Blanchard, indieDwell’s sales and marketing manager, said the company has contracted with Gary Communities and the Colorado Health Foundation to build 400 units along the Front Range with some in Pueblo and many in the Denver area and northern Colorado. The company hopes to help solve a deficit of more than 110,000 housing rental units needed by extremely low-income individuals and families. He said the company is paying more than the prevailing wage for construction jobs because “we want people to be able to afford our product.”
“The need for affordable housing is a universal challenge that lakes a universal solution,” Michelle Hadwiger, global business development for the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, said in a news release. “indieDwell’s innovative and thoughtful solution adds a vital option to the national housing crisis. Colorado will feel the benefit of indieDwell’s new jobs and factory in Pueblo and families will benefit from an affordable housing option.”
The homes range in size from 360 to 960 square feet and include up to four bedrooms, two bathrooms and with all but the smallest have a kitchen, dining and living rooms. The company will spend $13 million on the plant and PEDCO estimates the project will have an annual economic impact of $35 million.
"A safe, stable and affordable home is key to good health. Yet, the affordable housing crisis disrupts the lives of cost-burdened Coloradans. Our partnership with indieDwell further supports the Foundation’s larger strategy of investing in efforts that show promise and strive to bring health in reach for all Coloradans,” Dr. Ben Bynum, the health foundation's portfolio director of program related investments.
IndieDwell was started last year in the Boise suburb of Caldwell, Idaho, by Gombert and Scott Flynn as a public benefit corporation to manufacture “healthy, durable, energy efficient and sustainable modular houses with a mission to help solve the affordable housing crisis while improving the health of the environment and empowering communities,” according to the company’s website. The company now employs 70 at its headquarters and manufacturing plant in Caldwell for homes it is building in Boise, Caldwell and McCall, Idaho. A project in Los Angeles also is planned.
The company closed last month on $5.5 million in financing for a nationwide expansion from The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan; Northern Trust, the Colorado Health Foundation and Gary Community Investments. IndieDwell plans to build 100,000 of its homes nationwide by 2025, according to its website.