Taking part in the ribbon cutting officially opening the Industrial Way extension Thursday were Ardell Mitchell, Crothersville Town Council president; Terry Richey, Crothersville clerk-treasurer; Jim Lucas, state representative for District 69; Scott Turpin, president of Aisin Drivetrain Inc. and executive vice president of Aisin Holdings of America; Steve Akard, chief of staff of the Indiana Economic Development Corp.; Kevin Gabbard, Jackson County Industrial Development Corp. board president; Brad Bender, operations manager and chief financial officer of FPBH Inc.; and Eric Frey, executive director of Administrative Resources association.
Job growth and safety issues over the years led to the recent construction of a second entrance into Crothersville Industrial Park.
The expansion of Industrial Way to the west to join South Kovener Street also might bring more jobs to the community as it opens up additional ground for industrial expansion, officials said.
In the past, employees and visitors to the town’s only industrial park had only one way to reach Aisin Drivetrain Inc., Aisin Chemical Indiana LLC and Cerrowire from U.S. 31.
That single outlet created some concerns about the possibility of an accident trapping hundreds of people inside the park.
Those concerns mainly stem from the fact Industrial Way crosses the Louisville & Indiana Railroad line, which is included in a $100 million expansion project that when completed will allow for not just more trains but ones that are longer, heavier and faster.
Some of the concerns about the safety of those working in the park were laid to rest Thursday when county, town and company officials celebrated not only the completion of the new extension of Industrial Way west to South Kovener Street but the continued success of the industrial park.
“I don’t think there’s a community in the state the size of Crothersville that can boast an industrial base that we have,” town council President Ardell Mitchell said to those who attended the ribbon cutting. “Based on the investments, we can support a solid workforce, and we’re a good place for development.”
In addition to the safety aspect, the extension of Industrial Way offers more accessibility for the growing number of employees for both of Aisin’s companies and Cerrowire.
Aisin, a supplier to the automotive and industrial equipment industries, announced an investment of more than $45 million into the company’s Crothersville operations.
Earlier this month the town council approved tax abatements for Cerrowire to invest $1.749 million in equipment and real estate improvements that will add jobs. The expansion is expected to create about 16 jobs, said Jim Plump, executive director of Jackson County Industrial Development Corp.
Aisin Chemical Indiana LLC also received approval from the town board on a tax abatement for the company to invest $1.3 million in equipment for its current building project.
When the park was designed in the 1990s, there were funds available to create only a single access point from U.S. 31 into the area, Plump said. That was before the companies expanded and added jobs.
Plump said Aisin decided to forgo any incentives, such as tax credits or training dollars, so Indiana’s Economic Development Corp. could help the town with infrastructure improvements including the road extension.
The state provided $835,000 for a second outlet, along with other upgrades such as additional street lighting and railroad crossing arms. The town had to pay about $20,000, said Mitchell, who added that the length of the new roadway opens up opportunities for development along the road.
In the long term, Mitchell said, he envisions an expansion of Kovener Street to create a route for semis and farm equipment to use. That would eliminate larger vehicles traveling through town, he said.