Economic development moves ahead

Wanda English Burnett

At the annual dinner meeting of the Ripley County Economic Development held November 2 at the Holton Community Building, it was evident Gary Norman, director, has been doing his homework.
Norman addressed the crowd saying working together with a variety of entities has truly been the key to having success in the county for economic growth.

Working with Southeast Indiana Growth Alliance (SEIGA), has forged relationships connecting the county with other counties making a regional effort to bring businesses close to home. Norman is the president of SEIGA.

Norman thanked many key players in the audience and asked Barry Lauber, president of Ripley County Redevelopment Committee to speak.

Lauber talked about the importance of working together to bring jobs to Ripley County. He thanked the towns of Osgood and Versailles and local government for their support when trying to offer incentives to bring businesses to the county. “We can move quickly with the support of the local government,” he told those gathered.

Representative Randy Frye, District 67, was in attendance and told what was being done on the State level to encouarge growth in economics in the county. He said Ripley County’s best resources are their workforce.

He talked about the need for wireless technology and getting cell phone service in places like Milan. He noted that Verizon has a new cell tower on the horizon for Elrod in 2012. That wasn’t exactly what Frye had in mind, but it’s something, he noted. He is still adamant that Milan and any other dead zone in the county get service.

Frye addressed the need for transportation to bring companies to the county. The US 50 project is progressing with four lanes being brought from Seymour to North Vernon with a by-pass around the town. But, he is looking for the road to expand more and wants to see a four-lane all the way from North Vernon to US 50 and SR 101 to help businesses who use trucking for their products.

He said the State has worked hard to protect its financial health. He talked about the sad plight of the State of Illinois and said while they have $200 billion in unfunded liabilities, Indiana has $1 billion in cash surplus. “We are not in debt,” he said.

Frye told of his concerns about the power plants in Lawrenceburg being closed. He said three of the coal-powered plants are scheduled for forced closure by 2013 due to a new EPA ruling. He talked about the impact the area will feel from that decision. He said 66 employees will lose their good paying jobs and the power rate for customers will increase 30%. “We have to get that turned around,” he said.

Norman welcomed Patrick (Mike) Farrell of Concepts Industrial Inc. to Ripley County.
“It’s a pleasure to have this company come to the town of Sunman,” noted Wayne Jenner, Sunman Town Council.

He noted that the company, which began in Farrell’s garage, is now located in the old Pri Pak building. Jenner said Farrell, along with consultant Mike Draper, moved at the speed of light to get things done. This is a distribution and asset disposal company that deals primarily with large automotive component manufacturers including General Motors, Ford and Chrysler Corporation.
For example Concepts may purchase property being removed as a manufacturer closes existing plants. They then will break down that equipment and refurbish electrical components, robotics, processors, sensors, motors, etc. and resell as replacement parts.

Since 2005, the company has grown to a $3M plus business in 2010. Farrell told how grateful he is to the town of Sunman for their efficient help. “Anything I need, they see to it,” he noted. Currently they employ 16 full time employees. They plan to begin hiring additional shipping clerks, and sales and research associates within the next month. They will create up to 25 jobs in the Sunman area by 2014. The company will invest $1.77 million to purchase and equip a 108,000 square foot facility.
Another up and coming company in the county is Amazon Drygoods. This company has relocated from Davenport, Iowa, to Osgood and is owned by Kevin and Samantha Hinkle.

The company produces paper cuffs and collars from a 1860s press. They offer virtually every style of clothing for reenactment and Cinematography. They have thousands of clothing patterns that range from the Renaissance period to the 1950s. Amazon has supplied items for the Titanic (paper collars), Pirates of the Caribbean and Top Gun.

Watch for more information in an in depth story that will be in the local paper as soon as the company gets more of their inventory unpacked. Samantha was dressed in a 1933 style skirt she made herself and told the Osgood Journal she is excited to be in Osgood. She said they are going to employ a couple of seamstresses in the future for the company that has been in business for 29 years.

The evening was complete with Jeff Volz providing wine sampling to compliment the catered meal by Eckstein Catering of Sunman.

Norman said he is excited about how Ripley County is growing. He said he will continue to work with others to make the county attractive to prospective companies, no matter where they decide to settle in the county.

Pictured above from left are Osgood Town Council members, Linda Krinop, Dee Dee Holliday, and new business owners, Samantha and Kevin Hinkle of Amazon Drygoods as they were welcomed to Ripley County at Ripley County Economic Development's annual dinner last week. Another new business in the area is Concepts Industrial Inc., who was welcomed to Sunman. Pictured below are: Wayne Jenner and Kris Schneider, Sunman Town Council and Mike Farrell, owner of Concepts Industrial and Mike Draper, consultant for the business.