GREENSBURG — Decatur County and Greensburg have scored some job growth successes recently, and officials hope that plans for a new 475-acre industrial park and investments related to alternative fuels will produce even more jobs.
Decatur County added jobs at a faster pace last year than all but one of Indiana’s 92 counties, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the county’s unemployment rate recently fell to 5 percent.
The rebirth of the local Delta Faucet plant last year played a major role in the local recovery, said Marc Coplon, executive director of the Greensburg/Decatur County Economic Development Corp. at the agency’s annual meeting Thursday.
Until early last year, the number of jobs at the local plant, on the city’s southwest side, had dwindled from more than 1,000 to just over 100, and the remaining employees feared for their jobs.
But a recovery in the housing market, greater efficiency in the local plant and a decision by Delta’s parent company to diversify the local production has effected a renaissance that has boosted local employment to about 350.
Another recent success story, Coplon said, had its roots in an economic development trip to Japan in 2012, when Mayor Gary Herbert and Coplon visited Hitachi Chemical, the parent company of Greensburg-based Hitachi Powdered Metals USA.
Hitachi Powdered Metals invested nearly $6 million on new machinery and building expansions last year, fueled by a recovering auto sector, more access to corporate capital and the support of local government and economic development officials, according to company officials.
Greg Owens, the company’s vice president and chief operating officer has said that economic development efforts by local officials played a significant part in the parent company opting to expand Hitachi’s Greensburg operations. The company has plants in many areas, including Mexico, for example, but chose Greensburg for production of plastic parts because of the employees’ good work and because local officials, including Coplon and Herbert, established a good relationship with company leaders when they traveled to Japan.