A member of the Delaware County Commissioner said the change in direction nearly 10 years ago has led to significant economic growth in Muncie and Delaware counties. In the past two years, the county has announced several large projects that could create hundreds of jobs. The largest is CANPACK’s $380 million aluminum can manufacturing plant in Poland, which is currently under construction.
In an interview with Indiana Insider Business host Gerry Dick, Commissioner James King said the momentum started when local officials decided to take proactive economic development measures.
“We’ll wait for clues from the state to bring in different manufacturing industries. They’re bringing them in. We showed them an empty shell building. They stayed with us for 20 minutes and then they sent them elsewhere,” Kim said. . “I got in touch with Brad Bookout in 2013 and told them I didn’t want to do it again. I wanted to bring the company here. I wanted to spend the day. I wanted to show them our community because I wouldn’t They sell buildings; I want to sell our community to them.”
Local and county officials have embarked on their own economic development journeys to try and lure businesses to Delaware County, King said.
“We’re making everything more about the company and the community. We just don’t want to bring them here, show them a factory, and send them somewhere else.”
The CANPACK project, which is expected to create 345 jobs by the end of next year, was first announced in May 2021. The company “topped out” the 860,000-square-foot facility in June.
The project is progressing faster than expected, Kim said.
“It’s a windfall for Delaware County. We’re a big manufacturing hub. We’ve got New Venture Gear. We’ve got General Motors. We’ve got Steel and Wire, Delco. All of them in the ’80s and ’90s It started to come out that, to me, no one was really trying to get these companies back, until the commissioners we have now. We actually started to bring our community to where it was.”
Another major project announced in March is Minnesota-based Living Greens Farm’s plan to build a $70 million, 200,000-square-foot indoor vertical aeroponics farm that is expected to create 120 jobs by the end of 2024.
Living Greens is an example of a diverse portfolio of companies opening stores in Delaware County, King said.
“We just don’t want to focus on making auto parts or steel. We want to make it a bit broader. That way, if something really goes wrong, we’ve got other things here to fall back on.”
The county also seeks growth from established companies in the area. In August, Taurus Tool and Engineering celebrated the move into its new 66,000-square-foot facility in Muncie.
The former location of Taurus Tool was acquired by Italian industrial filter manufacturer Filtrec, which will invest $1 million there to establish its North American headquarters and create 21 jobs.