County’s promised investment approaches record

Promised investment in Jackson County was $106 million in 2021.

That was the fifth-highest total since Jackson County Industrial Development Corp. was created in 1984, said Jim Plump, who has been executive director since the beginning of the 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.

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

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

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

Will that record be topped by the end of the year?

“We are actively working on a couple of other projects that might happen in next month or so,” Plump said. “Once we get into mid-fourth quarter, most of that investment won’t occur this calendar year, so they would be counted for 2023. Just depends on when the investment will be made.”

Promised investment is the amount local industries plan to invest.

“I always say we (JCIDC) don’t invest, we don’t hire the people, we don’t pay those people’s wages. 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.

“We work obviously with incentives through the state, through the locals, and so we track promised investment because I think what that does, it shows the activity that is going on,” he said. “Also, the promised investment ultimately will go to increase the assessed value of Jackson County, which ultimately should keep your taxes relatively stable because the value in Jackson County is increasing.”

Looking at the top two promised investment years, Plump said JCIDC refers to them as the “Cummins years.”

“That was when Cummins was investing a heck 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 technical center for high-horsepower engines in Seymour. “Those are bars that we look at. The numbers … are pretty amazing.”

While the last couple of 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 by and large, Seymour, Jackson County, south central Indiana have come through the past couple of years in relatively good shape,” he said.

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

Among the largest of the $174.8 million are Aisin Drivetrain Inc. at $51 million, Valeo at $40 million, Aisin USA Mfg. Inc. at $27.5 million, Cummins Inc. at $20 million, Kremers Urban Pharmaceuticals Inc. at $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 have been expansion, 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 is growing,” Plump said.

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

During the Power Lunch, though, Plump said it looks as though there is a successful buyer of the business out of bankruptcy court.

“They are looking at possibly refiring a plant to produce ironing boards here in Jackson County,” he said.

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