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

THE 13 SOUTHWEST counties in the toe of Indiana's boot are savoring expansions in manufacturing, power production and professional services. Recreation continues to grow, too, and the area is attracting new developments.

New manufacturers. Four newcomers headline the area's manufacturing news.

In Princeton, home to Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana Inc., Japan-based Toyota Boshoku is joining the manufacturing mix. It's making a $57 million plant-and-equipment investment and will employ 230 making steel seat frames, says Todd Mosby, executive director, Gibson County Economic Development Corp.


PartTec Ltd., an instrumentation company that will assemble neutron detectors under a contract with the U.S. Department of Energy, has chosen Linton for its operations. It will employ eight, says Joan Bethell, executive director, Greene County Economic Development Corp.

Also in Greene County, Walnut Grove Spring Water Co. has begun bottling natural spring water that it sells to fine restaurants, gourmet retailers, wineries and to individuals from its website. The company employs six. The spring is one of only two certified natural springs in Indiana.

Tell City Boat Works is building a $5 million facility in Tell City and hiring 50 to build river-going vessels, says Carol Hagedorn, project manager for Perry County Development Corp. Its large-horsepower boats will be used to transport multiple barges on the river.

Plant expansions. OFS Brands, with nearly 1,500 employees, is spending $81 million to expand its national headquarters and manufacturing operations in Huntingburg and will add another 300 new jobs by 2012, says Nancy Eckerle, director of the Jasper Chamber of Commerce. The company makes office and conference room furniture.

She also reports that Jasper Seating has a new name: Jasper Group. The furniture-maker employs 500, supplying the office, school and hospitality markets. In January, it announced it would build a 15,000-square-foot showroom at its corporate campus in Jasper to showcase more than 50 collections.

The investment by ATTC Manufacturing in Tell City tops $50 million for construction and equipment. It's the company's fourth addition since opening in 2002. Currently employing 398, plans are to add another 90. The auto machining facility supplies brake drums, motors and differential cases to Toyota North America.

Ontario -headquartered Brampton Brick's $42.5 million facility in Farmersburg is nearly complete, reports Marilyn Salesman, secretary of the Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce board. It will employ 17, making 100 million bricks a year.

Olon Industries in Washington, which makes moldings and prefabricated desk drawers for the furniture industry, has moved to a new, 110,000-square-foot facility It will add 20 to 30 employees to today's workforce of 60, says Ron Arnold, executive director of Daviess County Economic Development Corp.

Highway Machine Co.'s 7,500-square-foot, $6 million expansion in Princeton includes a new 50-ton crane. The large-size gear maker employs 45.

James Holderread, vice president of economic development at the Economic Development Corporation of Southwest Indiana, reports that Cortegra Group Inc., which provides printing services for the pharmaceutical industry, has completed its $6 million, 63,000-square-foot expansion in Evansville and employs 70.

Also in Evansville, Shoe Carnival's new, two-story, 60,000-square-foot national corporate headquarters has opened. The shoemaker employs 190 in that facility and 160 at its Evansville distribution center.

Two manufacturers will no longer operate in southwest Indiana. In July, Jasper Plastics Solutions, which has employed 100, is leaving Jasper for Syracuse, five hours north. The company makes interior trim, headboards and doors for recreational vehicles. And Superior Essex announced in January that it will close its Vincennes plant that employs 250 by the end of 2008.

A corn-milling plant, two ethanol plants, and expanded coal mining and electric power are promising economic boosts in four counties.

In Daviess County, a $50 million expansion is underway at Grain Processing Corp.'s $600 million corn-milling plant. It currently employs about 125 and processes 100,000 to 125,000 bushels of corn each day.

Energy. In Mount Vernon, Aventine Renewable will begin building a facility that will produce up to 226 million gallons a year of denatured fuel-grade ethanol. Startup on the 116-acre site leased from the Ports of Indiana is expected by the end of this year.

Nevada-based The Ripatti Group, meanwhile, has optioned land but not yet filed for permits for a $200 million ethanol and biomass plant in Winslow that would employ about 40.

Last November Duke Energy got Indiana Regulatory Commission approval to build a $2.35 billion integrated gasification combined cycle power plant in Edward-sport. About 2,000 construction workers will spend time at the site over a two-year period. When the plant is operational, projected for 2012, it will employ 100.

Vectren Fuels also got the nod from regulators. It will begin underground coal mining at Oaktown, where a $125 million mine is underway, with plans to open the second quarter of 2009 and will employ 425.

Professional services. In Vincennes, Golden Rule Insurance Co. currently employs 35 and announced in April that it would add at least 200 news jobs in the next three years, reports Gary Gentry, president of Knox County Development Corp. "Golden Rule plans to invest more than $3 million to convert its current Vincennes facility into a state-of-the-art customer care center that will have the capacity for at least 400 jobs," he says.

American General Financial Services is making a $35 million investment in Evansville as it expands and improves its downtown campus. The company currently employs 960 and will add another 150. AGFS provides direct consumer and home equality loans, retail sales financing and other credit-related products.

Also in Evansville, AT&T is adding 150 employees to its Advanced Network Services division that supports wireless business customers. That will bring its workforce to 750 this year.

Jasper's Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center has opened the Lange-Fuhs Cancer Center, a $7 million, 14,000-square-foot center affiliated with Indiana University's Simon Cancer Center, reports Robert Grewe, president of the Dubois County Area Development Corp.

Education, Vincennes University begins construction later this year in Fort Branch for a $5 million Advanced Manufacturing campus. "School officials feel Gibson County is a leader in advanced manufacturing jobs and will demand more jobs in the future," says Mosby, "The campus will benefit not only southwestern Indiana, but Western Kentucky and Southeastern Illinois, too."

In Jasper, Purdue University has opened a Technical Assistance Program office, bringing university resources to area businesses and helping them compete globally, Grewe says.

Recreation. Visitors looking for summer fun are sure to find it in southwest Indiana.

Holiday World in Santa Claus spent $6 million on expansions this year, debuting the Star Spangled Carousel and Reindeer Games, a spring ride. At Splashin' Safari, the new Kima Bay water complex features seven slides, a four-story waterfall and some 100 other water-play elements.

In Evansville, the Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden plans to open its $11.1 million Amazonia Forest of Riches in late July or early August, says Charlotte Roesner, marketing director. The 10,O00-square-foot South American rainforest exhibit includes rockwork, a waterfall, suspension bridges, fog makers, an irrigation system and rainforest inhabitants.

Also in Evansville, a sale of Casino Aztar to Nevada-based Eldorado Resorts LLC for up to $24-5 million has been announced, pending approval by the Indiana Gaming Commission. The current owner is Kentucky's Tropicana Entertainment LLC. The purchase includes the 2,700-passenger riverboat casino and 250-room hotel.

New Developments.

The Daviess/Green/Martin county partnership to develop West Gate @ Crane Technology Park is starting to reap dividends with $10 million in new construction slated for this year.

A 37,800-square-foot facility is going up for defense contractor Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC). Employment will reach about 150 when the new building opens at yearend, says Jerry Ott, economic development consultant for Martin County.

Three other buildings, each ranging from 15,000 square feet to 25,000 square feet, are also planned to provide space for other defense contractors.

A groundbreaking will occur this summer for the North Warrick Industrial Park at Interstate 64 and the new Interstate 69, says Larry Taylor, executive director of the Warrick County Economic Development Department. Thirteen lots are planned for the 236-acre site, which is just 10 miles from the Evansville Regional Airport.

Pike County, too, hopes to see new construction soon, with work beginning on an industrial park, says Paul Lake, director of the Pike County Economic Growth and Development Council. "We're now selecting a site from among several options, for a 50-acre to 75-acre development. Pike County government will probably be the owner."

In Evansville, a 228-acre, mixed-use development by the Martin Commercial Group has been announced. Called The Promenade, the development will take seven to 10 years to develop and include retail, restaurants, hotel, corporate and medical campuses, entertainment venues, several lakes and several parking garages.
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Author:Mayer, Kathy
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Jun 1, 2008
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