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North-central Indiana update.

North-Central Indiana's businesses and industries are enjoying relatively high employment levels, a steady manufacturing pace and an influx of new retailers. Long-term prospects for the 12-county area look bright as several manufacturers expand, five counties welcome new tenants to long-vacant industrial sites, and two new-to-the-area companies begin plant construction.

All but 4.8 percent of the region's quarter-of-a-million work force is employed, beating both state and national averages, according to recent Indiana Workforce Development figures.

While a good portion of North-Central Hoosiers earn their livings in agriculture, a strong core relies on manufacturing, much of it based in Lafayette, Crawfordsville, Frankfort, Logansport, Kokomo, Tipton and Peru.

The only dismal news comes from Tippecanoe County, where Alcoa's Lafayette division is laying off 280 people this fall as it phases out its small and intermediate presses, and from Carroll County, where Lox Equipment Co. has announced a late-summer closing of its specialty transport equipment plant. About 100 workers there are losing jobs.

Meanwhile, employment has picked up at Indiana Packers in Carroll County, where a second shift has been added at the giant hog-processing plant. The company employs 600 and slaughters some 7,000 hogs a day.

Howard County's employment recently was boosted by 300 new jobs each at Delco Electronics and Chrysler. And Tri-State Processing is currently adding 12,000 square feet to its food-processing plant, which will prompt another 50 new jobs.

Retail is making headlines in Howard County, where several major new merchants are on-line. Just opened: a Cub Foods and a dozen smaller retailers in a just-built strip mall on the city's north side, reports Tennis Guyer, vice president of Kokomo/Howard County Chamber of Commerce and Kokomo/Howard County Development Corp. Sam's Club and Wal-Mart also have new stores in the center. On the south side, Lowe's is building a home center. And Meijer has announced it will open a giant grocery and department store in 1994.

Five counties--Miami, Montgomery, Tipton, Tippecanoe and White--report they've lined up new occupants for long-vacant facilities.

Miami County is welcoming Magna Tech of Los Angeles, which purchased the former All Season facility, a 73,000-square-foot building on 10 acres in Peru Industrial Park. The company makes electric ballasts and converters, says Steve Rockwell, executive vice president of Peru/Miami County Economic Development Corp. Magna Tech is spending about $1 million remodeling. About 90 days of renovation is expected to begin this month. The company plans to hire 200.

American Stationery Co. is building a second Peru plant, this one a 41,600-square-foot building in the industrial park. The company is expected to expand employment from 300 to about 450 over the next three years.

The community is bracing itself for the loss of active-duty personnel at Grissom Air Force Base. A three-member Grissom Redevelopment Authority has been appointed and the area has been designated an enterprise zone, which will allow a variety of tax breaks and other incentives.

In Montgomery County, a 400,000-square-foot building that has been vacant since the spring of 1990 has a new occupant. Dan McIlrath, executive president of the Crawfordsville/Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, says Western Publishing Co. Inc. of Wisconsin will use the building for regional distribution of its puzzles, games and children's books. The company expects to hire about 250 by year end. "Hopefully Crawfordsville will be chosen to be a manufacturing site later on, which would about double the number of employees," McIlrath says.

Also in Montgomery County, Nucor Steel is now completing a $40 million expansion. The company is now the fourth-largest U.S. steel producer. R.R. Donnelley and H.C. Industries have also expanded their facilities.

G.W. Invader Inc. has moved its sport boat plant to the former Pioneer Seeds plant in Tipton, reports Mike Dellinger, executive director of Tipton County Economic Development Corp. Initial employment is 65, with levels expected to rise to 200 over the next five years. Also in Tipton County, AcraLine Products Inc. is planning to expand its metal alloys plant, adding new products and increasing employment.

In Tippecanoe County, space formerly occupied by General Foods has been optioned by A.E. Staley, which operates two other corn-processing plants in Lafayette. "That's probably our biggest news," says Mike Brooks, president of Greater Lafayette Progress Inc.

Eli Lilly & Co.'s Tippecanoe Labs, one of the county's top employers, is spending $140 million on a plant expansion. Construction of Great Lakes Chemical's new $7 million headquarters is nearly complete, as is a $14 million expansion of State Farm Insurance Co.'s regional facilities. Both Home Hospital and St. Elizabeth Hospital Medical Center have begun multimillion-dollar expansions that include new buildings for several clinics. Also, the board of a newly designated urban enterprise zone in downtown Lafayette is currently developing a strategic plan.

In White County, the now-vacant Midwest Hanger building will soon become the new plant for Marian Rubber Products, an Indianapolis-based company. Also, Girtz Industries, a job-shop fabricator, is adding 10,000 square feet to its facility along with new equipment, with prospects for continued hiring, reports sales manager David Starrett.

The county's largest employer, Monon Corp., is becoming even larger. The trailer manufacturer is currently completing the hiring of 500 new employees, bringing its work force up to 2,200.

In nearby Benton County, Drug, Plastics & Glass Co. of Pennsylvania, which makes pharmaceutical bottles, opened its manufacturing facility in early spring, the first new industry in the primarily agricultural community in a long time.

"Since Drug, Plastics & Glass opened, we've had numerous inquiries from other companies," says Jim Brown, director of the Benton County Community Development Corp. "It seems like somebody popped a cork," he says of the level of interest.

He hopes to announce another new manufacturer soon. "Soil tests are being done now. They would employ 25 to 50 people."

In Cass County, Modine Manufacturing Inc. has announced it will expand its automotive oil cooler facility by 50,000 square feet and hire an additional 50 to 70 workers.

Cass County is hoping to avoid the loss of a major manufacturer. Wilson Brands Inc. announced last December that it would close its Logansport pork-processing plant in mid-1993, but IBP Inc. of Dakota City, Nebraska, has optioned the facility.

"The community, the state and other groups are involved in the negotiating process to assist in formulating an incentive package for this company," reports Bill Bradley Jr. of the Logansport-Cass County Economic Development Foundation Inc. "We are very excited, since IBP is proposing to increase the work force at this facility to 1,700 people over the next two years, an increase of more than 500 employees."

In Fountain County, Rivercrest Golf Course off Interstate 74 opened this summer, reports co-owner Brad Craine. The first nine holes are open, and Craine and partner Homer McDonald are currently developing the second nine holes for the par-72 course; that portion is scheduled for opening next spring. The facility includes a 5,000-square-foot clubhouse with banquet facilities. They also are developing 200 home sites around the course, for sale to individual builders. Several homes currently are under construction.

New construction was reported for companies moving into Clinton County, where two manufacturers have selected space in Frankfort Industrial Park, says James Hizer, CEO and economic development director of the Clinton County Chamber of Commerce.

Lake Erie Screw Corp., a division of TriMas Fasteners Inc., broke ground in June for a $32 million facility that eventually will employ about 124. Columbus Foods, a family-owned Chicago company, is building a food-oil packaging plant.
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Title Annotation:industrial development
Author:Mayer, Kathy
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Sep 1, 1993
Previous Article:City spotlight: Crawfordsville.
Next Article:Chromcraft Revington.

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