Western Indiana update: the region's top business stories.ALTERNATIVE ENERGY and manufacturing dominate the industrial news in Indiana's 10 western counties, where medical, transportation, education and tourism are also boosting the economy
Energy Production began in April at Altra Indiana LLC's $180 million ethanol plant north of Cloverdale, where 48 employees will produce about 88 million gallons annually, reports William Dory, executive director of the Greencastle-Putnam County Development Center.
Similar news could soon be coming from Warren County, where POET Energy's director of site development, Bob Berens, says a West Lebanon site is among those being considered for its third in Indiana. "We're going through various phases on potential projects," he says.
Benton County is about to have two wind farms, says Michelle White, executive director of Benton County Local Economic Development Organization.
Alternative Energy is now building the first phase--222 wind turbines--for the Fowler Ridge Wind Farm. It will be one of the world's largest wind farms and generate enough electricity to power more than 200,000 average-size homes, the company reports. It should be online by year-end, employing about 12.
In the Earl Park area, California-based Orion Energy Group LLC's 87-tower wind farm is up and running on about 10,000 acres.
Manufacturing Two new manufacturers have begun production in Terre Haute, reports Claudia Tannoos, vice president of Terre Haute Economic Development Corp.
A March grand opening marked the debut of the Boral Bricks plant, where 55 employees will make 120 million bricks a year. "This is their flagship operation," Tannoos says of the company's Terre Haute operation, one of many in the U.S.
In June, CertainTeed cut the ribbon on its $55 million plant, where about 70 of its planned 145 employees are on the job, making fiber-cement siding for residential use.
Terre Haute's Sony DADC is expanding for the third year in a row and adding 150 employees to its workforce of 1,180. The plant is producing 425,000 Blue-ray discs a day. It also makes CDs, DVDs and UMDs, universal media discs.
Other manufacturers giving a thumbs-up in the area include Cook Urological, a Cook Medical company, and Boston Scientific, both in Spencer, reports Denise Shaw, executive director of the Owen County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corp.
Medical device maker Cook Urological broke ground in June on a $25 million expansion that will double its plant size. It plans to increase today's workforce of 615 by 200 over the next three years. Boston Scientific, which also makes urological medical devices, now employs 1,200, who commute to Spencer from 17 area counties.
In Fountain County, long-timer Harrison Steel Castings has 850 employees on the payroll, making carbon and low alloys and heavily cored steel castings. The Attica company has more than $90 million in annual sales.
At the Newport Chemical Depot, 99 percent of the stockpiled nerve agent VX--used in chemical warfare--has been neutralized and the depot now begins its one-to-two-year winding down stage. In all, about 1,000 people will be affected by the shutdown, says Ed Cole, executive director of the Vermillion County Economic Development Council. "That's the number who have worked there the last five to seven years," he says. "We are working with the Office of Economic Adjustment in the U.S. Department Defense to help fund a local reuse authority for the site." It currently encompasses 7,100 acres. Cole hopes to attract industry to the area.
Newport Depot media liaison Terry Arthur says, "We'd like this to be a smooth transition for the community." About 130 jobs will be eliminated in September. "They are the first to go. We'll have a gradual phase-down of people."
Medical The $5 million, 8,900-square-foot St. Clare Cancer Center on the St. Clare Hospital campus in Crawfordsville will soon open. It will offer radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Its amenities include a healing garden patients may visit.
Transportation, distribution. Infrastructure is the hot topic in Crawfordsville, where Bill Henderson, executive director of Montgomery County Economic Development, says the Crawfordsville Municipal Airport is getting a new terminal and several million dollars in improvements to its apron and taxiway system. "The airport is as important as our roads," he says. "It's another gateway to the city for our big corporations." The $4 million terminal opens this fall; its price tag was lowered by donation of steel made at Nucor Steel near Crawfordsville.
Sewer and water infrastructure is going in to expand sites in the Nucor Road Industrial Corridor, where about 1,000 acres are available. And 75 of the 250 acres in Crawfordsville Commerce Park have been designated "shovel-ready" by the state in its fast-track approval process for new construction.
EB. Distro Inc. in Greencastle has expanded its distribution center with a $10 million addition. It employs 200. The center ships clothing to Fashion Bug stores and employs 200.
Education. IW Tech has begun construction of its first campus in Greencastle. It has been offering classes in leased space, where about 400 to 500 have attended. The college is investing $10 million to build the 32,000-square-foot facility. "We will be able to handle up to 1,000 students at the new facility," Dory says.
Also in Greencastle, DePauw University is putting the finishing touches on the $29 million Judson and Joyce Green Center for the Performing Arts. The university also welcomed Brian Casey, a new president, to campus this fall.
Tourism. Parke County, meanwhile, is gearing up for its annual peak in tourism from October 10 to 19 during the Parke County Covered Bridge Festival. It showcases 30 old-time bridges in the "covered bridge capital of the world." A Maple Syrup Fair near Rockville each February also gives the county an economic boost.