More than Harley-Davidson

August 20, 2009
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Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson isn't the only company scouting for places to plunk new operations, a long-time economic development expert says.

Linda Williamson, who spearheaded development in Bloomington for a number of years and now has her own consulting firm, says companies have cut costs about as much as possible. Now theyâ??re easing into what looks to be a new investment cycle.

â??Itâ??s heating up again,â?? Williamson says. â??You will see nice expansion announcements in variety of locations.â??

The Business Journal of Milwaukee reported yesterday that company officials visited Shelby County to gather information for a possible location of a new assembly plant. The plant would replace a smattering of aging facilities in Pennsylvania.

Harley-Davidson also is considering sites in Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Shelbyville, Ky.; and a fourth, undisclosed location. Pennsylvania isnâ??t about to let the jobs go without a fight, pledging $15 million toward upgrading the York location.

Even if Harley-Davidson bypasses Indiana, the state can expect new projects and expansions in green energy and other industries affected by federal stimulus dollars, Williamson says.

Near Indianapolis, hot spots are near the airport west of the city and near the Medco warehouse and pharmacy operation in Boone County, she says.

As was the case at the end of prior recessions, companies are starting to lock in space in warehouses in anticipation of more traffic as the economy improves, she says.

â??Weâ??re seeing a whole lot of traffic through the good industrial buildings that are available,â?? Williamson says. â??Itâ??s not just tire-kickers.â??

What do you think? Is Williamsonâ??s perspective on target?
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  • Is the 800lb. Gorialla in the room slowly materializing?
    Will Indiana be a less likely place to build a new manufacturing business due to the perception Indiana business' are going to get nailed by high energy costs (at least until the green dollars start rolling in)? The up coming cap & trade legislation doesn't seem to bode well for Indiana's energy dependence on coal.

    Build a few wind farms in Shelby Co. and they may have a shot.
  • I see Boone, Shelby, and Morgan counties as hotspots as we, hopefully, emerge from this recession. Do not be surprised to see the area within 5-7 miles of the Airport continue to ascend to one of the Midwest's largest distribution centers.

    @Tim: I fail to see how building extremely expensive sources of energy to replace non-capitalized energy production facilities is going to help with high energy prices or Indiana's competitiveness. The federal subsidies for wind and solar will have to end at some point, and the states who work the hardest at investing in cleaning up more cost-efficient energy technologies will be the ones to come out on top.

    Honestly, how does noone in this state even posit looking into Micro- and Nano-sized nuclear facilities, such as those being built by Toshiba, that effectively run themselves and have virtually zero chance of meltdown(they can power 150-200 homes for 30 years at .05-.08 a kWh)? They provide constant power, produce no greenhouse gasses, take up no real estate as they are buried deep underground, require no maintenance, and can provide profitable sources of energy with no federal dollars needed. There is also no need for extensive overhauls of the power grid to accommodate an unreliable source of energy. If state officials convince federal regulators to allow them, Toshiba might even be obliged to build a manufacturing facility for them right here in Central Indiana.
  • There are development opportunities in the Rt 31-N corridor. A very large new building just east of 31 on SR 28, built by Chrysler before its current problem waits for its 1st occupant. That entire area - Tipton, Elwood, Frankfort, Kokomo and beyond to Muncie and Anderson needs some economic/business development. There are the unemployed blue-collar people waiting to again be productive, pay taxes, send children into Indiana higher education, and buy more products from Indiana business.
    We need nuclear power produced in Indiana to improve the overall environment and attract more business to Indiana. Nuclear generated electricity will also help expand electric car development . An interesting concept might be moving Indiana and its manufacturing history and label from â??rust beltâ?? into â??green beltâ?? and into competition with places like Colorado. In the current energy production environment, nuclear seems to be the best option since Indiana is in neither a wind tunnel or a sun belt.

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