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From Site Selection magazine, March 2013
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Easier Decisions

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The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is the largest children's museum in the world. Fireworks of Glass is the largest permanent sculpture of blown glass by renowned artist Dale Chihuly.
Photo courtesy of Visit Indy

Site selectors in a mix of industries make the case that Hoosier sites have more pros than cons.

by MARK AREND
O

ne fertilizer plant project, in the southwest corner of Indiana, made news in late 2012 because it will happen. Another made news in early 2013, in the same part of the state, because it will not happen. In December, Ohio Valley Resources LLC (OVR) selected Spencer County as the home for its new $1-billion nitrogen fertilizer plant. The state-of-the-art facility will be located on approximately 150 acres (61 hectares) north of Rockport. OVR also considered a site near Owensboro, Ky., among others.

"We considered numerous sites before narrowing our search down to the Spencer County and Owensboro locations," explained OVR President and CEO Doug Wilson. "During the last several months, we have met with representatives of both communities and considered the potential pros and cons of our two best options. We greatly appreciate the cooperation of both communities but feel confident we have picked the best possible location for the new plant."

Access to two interstate natural gas pipelines, convenient rail and highway access and the potential for Ohio River access were key site considerations. OVR's nitrogen fertilizer plant will be the first entirely new facility of its type to be constructed in America by a U.S.-based firm in more than a quarter-century.

The plant will use the latest version of a purifying process from Houston-based KBR and therefore will consume less energy than ammonia plants currently operating in the United States. It will feature state-of-the-art emission-control technologies that comply with current federal and state environmental regulations.

"There is a rapidly growing need for this type of facility," Wilson said. "By providing a reliable source of emissions-control products to support a cleaner environment, we will play a key role in boosting domestic agricultural production. Best of all, we will rely on American workers using domestic sources of natural gas. We are extremely proud that our new plant will help to stabilize the supply and price of nitrogen fertilizers to serve the Eastern Corn Belt and thereby support the regional agricultural economy." The facility will produce approximately 2,420 tons per day of ammonia and 3,000 tons per day of urea ammonium nitrate (UAN) solution for fertilizer.

LST_325Aerial

War Hero: USS LST-325 is a decommissioned tank landing ship of the U.S. Navy that is docked in Evansville. Listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places since 2009, LST-325 landed on Omaha Beach in France on D-Day and served throughout World War II and in the Korean War.

In early 2013, the state withdrew support for another fertilizer plant, in next-door Posey County, that was to be operated by the Midwest Fertilizer Corp., a unit of Pakistan-based Fatima Group. According to a Feb 1, 2013, report in the Evansville Courrier & Press, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. (IEDC) learned January 12th that the Department of Defense had changed its opinion of Fatima based on testimony of a military explosives expert who held the view that Fatima Group was "less than cooperative" with DoD's efforts in the region.

"Being able to do business in a right-to-work state that provides companies with the necessary tools to be successful made the decision to relocate here an easy one."
— Rob West, Lake Area Designs, LLC

A statement Gov. Mike Pence reads: "Economic development is important, but the safety and security of our troops in harm's way is more important. We are in the process of making a careful evaluation of the appropriateness of Indiana's involvement in this project with those priorities in mind."

Right-to-Work Anniversary

Meanwhile, Indiana is no longer the only Midwestern state with right-to-work status, as it was in February 2012, when then-Governor Mitch Daniels signed the measure into law. Michigan joined the club later last year, removing a key differentiator between the two states, which share a 100-mile (161-km.) border. But it's still one reason a wood furniture and custom molding manufacturer for the recreational vehicle (RV) and commercial industries feels confident in relocating its operations from Sturgis, Mich., to LaGrange, Ind. Lake Area Designs, LLC (LAD) will invest $1.5 million to lease and renovate a 24,000-sq.-ft. (2,230-sq.-m.) facility and will create 34 new jobs by 2016.

"We are very excited to make the move to Indiana to be closer to our customer base in northern Indiana," said Rob West, president of LAD, in February. "Being able to do business in a right-to-work state that provides companies with the necessary tools to be successful made the decision to relocate here an easy one, and we look forward to growing in LaGrange County and the state of Indiana."

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered Lake Area Designs, LLC up to $325,000 in conditional tax credits based on the company's job creation plans.

These tax credits are performance-based, meaning until Hoosiers are hired, the company is not eligible to claim incentives. The town of LaGrange approved additional tax abatement at the request of the LaGrange County Economic Development Corporation.

In-State Benefits

Other companies are relocating operations from outside Indiana, as well. Scott Pet Products, Inc., a pet supplies manufacturer, announced plans in December to relocate its operations from Tishomingo, Okla., to Newport, creating up to 80 new jobs by 2014.

The company, which specializes in natural dog chews, treats and wild bird seed, will open a manufacturing and distribution warehouse located on its nine-acre (3.6-hectare) campus in Vermillion Rise Mega Park. The facility will house the company's beef and pork dog treat operations.

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Scott Pet Products, which employs 110 associates at its Rockville, Ind., headquarters, is currently hiring additional positions in quality control, supervision, maintenance and production at its Newport facility.

"With a long history in Indiana, Scott Pet Products is a familiar name among pet owners," said Michael Bassett, president of Scott Pet Products. "We not only chose this location because of its close proximity to our corporate headquarters, but we have come to appreciate Indiana's work force and business-friendly environment."

IEDC offered Scott Pet Products up to $70,000 in performance-based training grants based on the company's job creation plans. Also, the state offered Vermillion County a grant from the Industrial Development Grant Fund of up to $250,000 to assist with off-site infrastructure improvements. The Vermillion County Economic Development Council approved additional incentives at the request of the Newport Chemical Depot Reuse Authority.

Conn-Selmer, Inc., a manufacturer of band and orchestra instruments, is another cross-border investment, with plans announced in December to consolidate operations from LaGrange, Ill., to Elkhart, where it is headquartered, creating up to 23 new jobs in 2013.

The company, a subsidiary of Steinway Musical Instruments, will invest $2.2 million to move its percussion instrument manufacturing operations to its 90,000 sq.-ft. (8,300-sq.-m.) woodwind instrument facility in the northern Indiana city of 51,000. Conn-Selmer currently employs 346 Hoosiers at its four Elkhart facilities and 750 associates nationwide.

"In an effort to remain the only full-line band instrument manufacturer in the United States, consolidating these facilities will help reduce overhead and provide us the best opportunity to achieve this goal," said John Stoner Jr., president and chief executive officer of Conn-Selmer. "We appreciate the support of our project by the city of Elkhart and the state of Indiana."


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