Although it may be at a slower pace than they'd like and it will be tempered by layoffs, growth remains the outlook for the five counties in south-central Indiana, where the industrial base is diverse.
Linda Williamson, executive director of the Bloomington Economic Development Corp., is aggressively seeking a variety of businesses--from companies to move into the 3 million square feet of available industrial space, to medical-product, information-technology and education-related companies (see focus on Bloomington, page 79). "We're seeking companies that fit with our mix of companies," she says.
In the medical-manufacturing sector, Bloomington is home to the Cook Group Inc., which is completing a new 1 million-square-foot world headquarters for its 1,600 employees. It will open in the first quarter of 2002. Bloomington also is home to a Baxter Healthcare Corp. operation. Baxter spent $219 million to acquire Cook Pharmaceutical Solutions from the Cook Group. "They hired all 300 employees from Cook and they also purchased six buildings," Williamson says. "They plan to grow their business here."
General Electric's downsizing continued in the last year, with employment at the side-by-side refrigerator maker dropping from 3,200 to 1,600 because a product line was moved out. And Otis Elevator also cut its workforce, from 835 to 485. Hallmark/InterArt, formerly Sunrise, employs about 650 at its greeting card and gift operation.
Mergers sometimes signal loss, but it was a win for Columbus when Fortune 500 companies Arvin and Mentor combined forces as ArvinMentor two years ago. Not only did the county's Arvin manufacturing operations remain, but a new $10 million ArvinMeritor Information Technology Center is getting under way. It will employ about 94 and will be the first to occupy space in Columbus' new 70-acre InfoTech Park. On the drawing board for the same park: ArvinMentor Shared Services Center, a $3 million building that would employ 88, handling the company's centralized administrative functions.
"ArvinMeritor has been offered incentives from the state and the city, but it has to go through an internal process," says Brooke Tuttle, president of the Columbus Economic Development Board. "We have every reason to believe the second facility will come."
Other new industries: TST Products Inc. opened this year. It's a six-employee automotive company that provides aftermarket engine parts for Dodge pickups. And...