Hill-Rom, Muscatatuck announcements to help local economy
Governor brings good economic news

Wanda English Burnett, Editor

‘Economic growth’ were resounding words Governor Mitch Daniels echoed as he began the day in his office and traveled throughout southeastern Indiana on Tuesday. After stopping at the Newpoint Diner, he traveled to Batesville, where the first big announcement came - Batesville will be the site for a new Innovation Center.

Hill-Rom’s CEO Peter Soderberg announced the company looked across the country and worldwide and decided Batesville was the best place for the center, which will serve as a hub for Hill-Rom’s international research and development teams that create innovative medical equipment and technology solutions for the medical industry. “In the final analysis, we recognized the strength of building right here where our base is strong. We see Batesville and the State of Indiana as good partners for our future and that made our choice easy,” Soderberg stated.

Engineers and technicians will make up most of the staff at the new center. They will all make an average hourly wage of $37. “I am thrilled to see the Hill-Rom Innovation Center come to fruition,” noted Batesville Mayor Rick Fledderman.

“This is another good economic win for Southeastern Indiana, which has been a strong participant in our economic comeback,” noted Governor Daniels.

The company will invest more than $1.6 million in the project, making its current corporate offices into the new high-tech center. The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered the company up to $2 million in tax credits and $173,000 in training grants. The City of Batesville will give a tax abatement worth $74,000.

The second big announcement of the day was a two-part one that will impact the area as well. Governor Daniels made a visit to the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center just inside Jennings County. There he became a part of an excited group, who made the announcement that the Army will be giving the site a $100 million dollar make-over so it can handle major training exercises. The next announcement was that the center will be the site of the first major national training exercise in May. About 300 permanent jobs will be added including both military and civilian.

“This is the day General Umbarger and I have been working toward for two years. Muscatatuck will now become a major contributor to our national security, and a major contributor to the economy of southern Indiana,” noted Governor Daniels.

The governor stood at the podium in the beautiful sunshine and addressed those in attendance. He said he stood on the same grounds a couple of years earlier with a sense of sadness after the facility was closed as a hospital and home for mentally challenged. He admitted he was at a complete loss that day as to what the future would hold for the sprawling acreage littered with buildings. He said the answer began with a vision and through a multitude of people a vision has now become a reality.
“Muscatatuck will play a significant role in training soldiers and units to protect our country,” said Brigadier General Tom Maffey, director of training for the Department of the Army. He added, “Once we are fully operational, the Army will train significant numbers of soldiers every year at this unique training facility.”

The upcoming exercises will replicate a realistic response to a major terrorist attack. The grounds at MUTC will be transformed to replicate a large targeted city where the detonation of a nuclear device will take place.

The exercise will include 2,000 active duty military personnel along with 450 local first responders (local meaning from the Indianapolis and Terre Haute areas), and role players, many of which will be local.

As Congressman Baron Hill stood before the crowd at MUTC on Tuesday, he said, “I suspended my duties in Washington for the day and came to be a part of this great event. This is home to me.” Citing the day America was changed forever, Hill referred to the tragedy of September 11, 2001. He said, “9-11 changed the world - 9-11 changed the way we live - 9-11 changed Washington.” He continued by noting that Muscatatuck will be part of the remedy of the tragic event of 9-11.

Brigadier General Clif Tooley held a short briefing for media before the main announcement where he said, “This is a proud day.” He explained that there will be ten major exercises a year held at MUTC with a “whole bunch of smaller ones in between.” He said there have been numerous studies made on the facility with all of them coming to the same conclusion, “there is no place in the world like Muscatatuck.”

While he said the timeline for getting everything in full operation is projected for the year 2012, “we are trying to move up that timeline,” he told those in the media room. He described the first major exercise as bringing 4000 people to the area. “It will be the largest live deployment for this type of exercise to date,” he said.

Saying the complexity of the urban environment is a real threat in today’s warfare, the site at MUTC has exactly what is needed for training. “This was like a self-contained city,” he noted, referring to what the center was in year’s past. He said that, along with the fact the site is fairly remote, under a three dimensional airspace, the sheer size and complexity, makes it have all the desired capabilities needed for today’s training.

Mayors from the cities of Vernon and North Vernon attended the ceremony on Tuesday, both saying they were thankful for the economic boon the facility is sure to lend to the area.

While the big announcements seemed like the point of culmination - and it was - Brigadier Tooley noted, “It’s just the beginning.”

Governor Daniels concluded with, “Indiana is proud to serve.” Providing the facility to train the military to protect lives and liberties brings a sense of pride to the state and the economic benefit is an added bonus. The governor projects a $324M payroll, likening the facility to a convention center that will bring 40,000 people through it on an annual basis.

Muscatatuck is getting a worldwide name as a first class training center that will be used by all branches of the military.
Above Governor Mitch Daniels, right, shakes hands with those in attendance at the announcement of the Army at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center on Tuesday. BELOW: Congressman Baron Hill is escorted by military personnel from the aircraft that brought him to the event. He noted that he suspended his duties in Washington to be on hand for the monumental announcement.