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Hooray for Blu-ray: Terre Haute is a winner in worldwide battle of new DVD formats.

IN THE LAST GREAT BATTLE between VHS or Beta (not the band from Louisville, but rather the 1980s videotape formats) Sony ended up the loser with its Beta format and VHS tapes became the standard for home movie viewing until the arrival of DVDs.

So when a round of new high-definition video technology set up a battle between HD-DVD versus Sow's Blu-ray format, the stakes were huge. And no city had more on the line than Terre Haute, where Sony DADC began manufacturing Blu-ray discs two years ago and has expanded its eastern Indiana operations several times.

Now it looks like that major bet on the new optical disc technology is making Terre Haute a big winner. Earlier this year, Toshiba, which had been pushing the HD-DVD format, abandoned that effort and left Sony's Blu-ray as the clear optical disc format of the future.

That means all the major Hollywood studios are planning to produce movies on Blu-ray discs, which offer stunning picture quality and more than five times the storage capacity of traditional DVDs. Expect a flood of the new discs heading to retailers and movie rental chains and falling prices on Blu-ray players, which use a blue-violet laser that gives the format its name.

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And expect Terre Haute to land more jobs and investment at the million-plus-square-foot plant that Sony opened in 1983. The facility has been at the cutting edge of technology over the past 25 years and today the plant has nearly 1,200 employees that produce more than 60 million discs each month, in formats such as CD, DVD, Blu-ray and UMD.

Blu-ray disc production began in 2006 and last October Sony announced its 10 millionth 50 Gigabyte Blu-ray disc (a copy of "Spider-Man 3" from Columbia Pictures) was manufactured at the Terre Haute facility. The company also manufactures Blu-ray discs at plants in Salzburg, Austria and Shizuoka, Japan.

The Terre Haute plant is currently making 425,000 Blu-ray discs per day and by this October, Sony expects all three facilities will have more than doubled their combined manufacturing capacity to 47 million discs per month, which will be shipped to consumers around the world.

As part of that effort, Sony plans to spend more than $113 million on new equipment and improvements to its Terre Haute facility, adding up to 85 new jobs in the process. That announcement came during an official visit to Sow's headquarters in Japan by Indiana Secretary of Commerce Nate Feltman.

"The rapid adoption of the new Bluray disc format by consumers allows us to quickly expand Blu-ray disc capacity in the United States. Based on the past experience with manufacturing in Terre Haute, the selection of this facility for the expansion was logical," says Dieter Daum, executive chairman of Sony DADC Global.

"Sony DADC chose to expand in Indiana because of the state's low business costs, central location, world-class transportation, distribution and logistics infrastructure, and a highly skilled and educated workforce," explains Keith Moenter, director of organizational performance and talent management at the Terre Haute plant.

That's good news for the state's manufacturing sector, which will welcome the new professional staff, engineers, technicians and operators in connection with the Blu-ray expansion plans.

"Sony's decision to expand its operations in Indiana is more hard evidence that our international roadwork is a good investment and is a solid step toward creating more jobs for Hoosiers," says Feltman.
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Title Annotation:AROUND INDIANA
Author:Hromadka, Erik
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Jul 1, 2008
Words:568
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