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Southwest Indiana update: the region's top business stories.

Rolling into town. A new industry rolls into Tell City in Perry County late this year. Construction is under way on a $22.5 million manufacturing facility for Alabama-based Webb Wheel Products Inc., reports Greg Wathen, executive director of Perry County Development Corp. "They hope to be powered by the end of this year. This is going to be fast track," Wathen says.

A Marmon Highway Technologies company, Webb Wheel makes wheel and drum components for the heavy truck industry, including spoke wheels, hubs, brake drums and rotors for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, trailers and buses. It's the company's fourth North American facility.

Plans are to begin production next January, employ about 82 and invest another $3.5 million within two years. Webb Wheel is building its 118,000-square-foot facility on 54 acres in the Perry County Industrial Park Riverview.

Webb will supply product to another company in the park, Thyssen Krupp Waupaca. The iron ferrous foundry employs 850 and makes cast products for the transportation industry. "This is part of our overall strategy, a cluster strategy," Wathen says. "We look at the primary employer and ask, 'Who are their suppliers?' Waupaca was part of our key in attracting Webb."

The jobs are high-wage and high-tech, he says. "This will be the most technologically advanced manufacturing facility we have. And considering that Waupaca has a $200 million investment, that's saying a lot. Webb will have a lot of robotics, a lot of automated executive director of the Daviess County Growth Council. The county has committed $2 million to the project, with groundbreaking expected in 2005. "Several things are working in its favor," Arnold says, including proximity to I-69.

Growing what's here. In Jasper, Stens, which bills itself as "The Parts

Company ... First and Fast," has moved into a 90,000-square-foot facility. "We bought an existing facility, refinished it, and added on 13,000 square feet," reports Peter Ariens, president. The company employs 162 in Jasper and another 75 to 100 at its six U.S. distribution centers and Alabama manufacturing plant, where it makes monofilament line used in trimmers.

Founded in 1970 and purchased by the Ariens family in 1995, Stens sells more than 6,000 different products in some 59 countries.

In Posey County, Bristol-Myers Squibb Worldwide Medicine Group's Mount Vernon facility is adding 95 new employees to its current 220 workforce as it adds a new product line.

"They are expanding in phases," says Nancy Burns, executive vice president

of the Posey County Chamber of Commerce. "Phase one is done and now they're starting on their second phase." The plant manufactures various over-the-counter medicines.

In Spencer Count, Rockport River Terminals in Rockport has completed the first of two expansions and has begun container-on-barge shipments. "This mode will add to the profitability of manufacturers needing to move containers too heavy for highway weight restrictions," says Tom Utter, director of LincoInland Economic Development Corp. "The economic-development benefit is our ability to get manufacturers access to international raw materials and international markets for their goods."

Spencer County's Holiday World & Splashin' Safari in Santa Claus is also growing. The theme park opened for the season with $3.2 million in new activities, including a restaurant and several water-related spots, such as the "sprayground" and a 10-lane water slide. About 1,100 employees will be on the job this summer.

To be or not to be. "We don't really know what is happening," Loogootee Mayor Donald Bowling says of the possible closure of NSWC Crane Surface Warfare Center Division, which employs 4,000 and accounts for 67 percent of his residents' income. His hope is that the announced extension to I-69 will keep Crane off the closure list and even lead to growth.

Any decision could be 18 months away, he says. In the meantime, "We're getting ready for growth. We have a new water system and a new sewer plant. And we're hoping Crane will survive."
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Title Annotation:Regional Report Southwest
Comment:Southwest Indiana update: the region's top business stories.(Regional Report Southwest)
Author:Mayer, Kathy
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Geographic Code:1U3IN
Date:Jun 1, 2004
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