County record investment approaches

The promised investment in Jackson County was $106 million in 2021.

It’s the fifth-highest total since the Jackson County Industrial Development Corp.’s inception. in 1984, said Jim Plump, who has been executive director of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit since its inception.

The highest was $177 million in 2013, followed by $175 million in 2014.

So far this year, Plump said, the promised investment is $174.8 million.

“My overall feeling is that after COVID in 2020, when many projects were planned but never materialized, companies have come back strong in the last two years,” he said of what he attributes to a strong 2022 so far.

Will this record be broken by the end of the year?

“We are actively working on several other projects that may happen in the next month or so,” Plump said. “Once we get to the middle of the fourth quarter, the majority of that investment won’t happen in this calendar year, so they’ll be accounted for in 2023. It just depends on when the investment is made.”

The promised investment is the amount that the local industry plans to invest.

“I always say that we (JCIDC) are not investing, we are not hiring people, we are not paying the salaries of these people. What we do is we work with companies to create a good atmosphere where companies can be profitable,” Plump said during a recent Power Lunch at the Jackson County Chamber in Seymour.

“Obviously we’re working with incentives from the state, through local residents, and that’s how we’re tracking the promised investment, because I think what it’s doing is showing the activity that’s going on,” he said. “Also, the promised investment will ultimately go toward increasing the assessed value of Jackson County, which should ultimately keep your taxes relatively stable as the value in Jackson County increases.”

Looking at the first two years of promised investment, Plump said the JCIDC was calling them the “Cummins years.”

“That was when Cummins invested a hell of a lot of money in their Hedgehog project, when they built their new office building and invested in a lot of equipment to create the Hedgehog,” he said of the Columbus-based company opening a high-power engine technical center in Seymour. “These are bars we’re looking at. The numbers… are pretty amazing.”

Although the past few years have been challenging for a variety of reasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Plump said the current economy is good and strong in Jackson County and south central Indiana.

“There have been some hiccups along the way, but I think overall Seymour, Jackson County, south central Indiana has come through the last couple of years in pretty good shape,” he said.

Looking at the promised investment so far in 2022, Plump said JCIDC has worked on 11 successful projects.

Among the biggest at $174.8 million are Aisin Drivetrain Inc . with $51 million, Valeo with $40 million, Aisin USA Mfg. Inc. with $27.5 million, Cummins Inc. with $20 million, Kremers Urban Pharmaceuticals Inc. with $20 million and The Royal Group at $10 million. Aisin Drivetrain is in Crothersville, while the other five companies are in Seymour.

Of the 11 projects, nine are expansions and two are new locations: Guardian Bikes and Metal Protection Lenoli USA, both in Seymour.

“Our marketing message remains the same: Great location and great transportation system in an area that’s growing,” Plump said.

Home Products International-North America Inc. announced this spring that it was exiting the Seymour-based garment care and home organization business to focus on its core plastics business. HPI owned and operated several metal stamping plants and distribution centers in Seymour where it manufactured ironing boards.

During the Power Lunch, however, Plump said it appears he has a successful buyer for the business outside of bankruptcy court.

“They’re looking at possibly re-igniting an ironing board manufacturing plant here in Jackson County,” he said.

“This thing called the economy has a lot of ups and downs,” he added. “Right now, we’re certainly on the up. We were down in 2020 and so right now we’re very pleased to be at that point.”

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