A member of the Delaware County Commissioners says a change in direction nearly 10 years ago has led to significant economic development growth in Muncie and Delaware County. In the last two years, the county has seen several big projects announced that could create hundreds of jobs. The biggest is the Poland-based CANPACK’s $380 million aluminum can manufacturing facility, which is currently under construction.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business Host Gerry Dick, Commissioner James King says the momentum began when local officials decided to take the initiative on economic development.
“We would wait for the state to bring in leads of different manufacturing. They were bringing them in. We were showing them a shell building. They were spending 20 minutes with us, and then they were sending them somewhere else,” said King. “I got with Brad Bookout in 2013 and told them that I don’t want to do this anymore. I want to bring companies in here. I want to spend a day. I want to show them our community, because I’m not selling them a building; I want to sell them our community.”
King says local and county officials began embarking on their own economic development trips to try and attract businesses to locate in Delaware County.
“We’re making everything a little bit more about the company and about 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 held a “topping off” ceremony in June for the 860,000-square-foot facility.
King says the project is coming along more quickly than expected.
“That was a big windfall for Delaware County. We were a big manufacturing hub. We had New Venture Gear. We had General Motors. We had Steel and Wire, Delco. All of that started going out in the 80s and 90s, and to me, nobody really tried to bring those companies back until the commissioners that we have now. We’re actually starting to bring our community to where it once was.”
Another major project announced in March was Minnesota-based Living Greens Farm’s plans for a $70 million, 200,000-square-foot indoor vertical aeroponic farm that is expected create 120 jobs by the end of 2024.
King says Living Greens is an example of having a diversified portfolio of companies set up shop in Delaware County.
“We just don’t want to focus on manufacturing of auto parts or steel. We want to make it a little bit broader. That way, if something did go out, we still have something else to fall back on here.”
The county is also seeking 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.
Taurus Tool’s previous location was acquired by Italy-based Italy-based industrial filter manufacturer Filtrec, which is investing $1 million to establish its North American headquarters there and create 21 jobs.