ANDERSON -- The condition of Anderson's business climate continued to dominate local news in 2013.
Here's a look back at the year's top Madison County stories.
1. Changes in local health care
The role of navigator was created across America, including Anderson, to help guide residents through the Affordable Care Act and the Health Insurance Marketplace. Earlier in the year, St. Vincent Health network and the announced job layoffs, affecting local hospitals. The cuts - blamed partially on on the ACA and Medicaid reimbursement, were not to affect patient care. And, though perhaps not related, for the second year in a row, Madison County came in dead last statewide in terms of smoking, obesity and physical activity rates.
2. Activity in auto industry
As the year started, Greenville Technology Inc., opened a new 150,000 square foot plant to manufacture plastic components for Honda. In March, Hy-Pro Filtration (moving from Fishers) said it would give local folks first crack at more than 100 jobs it planned to bring to the county for assembly and warehouse of its oil and diesel fuel products. In June, Keihin North American opened its facility to manufacture vehicle parts. The news of auto industry-related jobs was welcomed by job-seeking residents.
3. Centaur buys Indiana Grand
In a sharp business move, Centaur Holdings, LLC emerged from a bankruptcy to add Shelbyville's bankrupt Indiana Grand and Downs to its stable for $500 million. Along with Hoosier Park, the company's payroll jumped to about 2,000 workers. The purchase, however, meant Centaur split racing between the sites: thoroughbreds went to Shelbvyille and Anderson kept standardbreds. In addition, Hoosier Park expanded facilities and doubled the size of its indoor concert venue.
4. Biofuel fraud scheme alleged
Middletown was home of what U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett called the largest tax and securities fraud in Indiana history. Owners of a biodiesel producer firm based in Middletown conspired against investors and consumers, Hogsett charged in September. About 35 million gallons of biofuels were allegedly fraudulently sold, creating more than $50 million in profits for owners of Imperial Petroleum, based in Evansville, and E-Biofuels of Middletown. Seven people and three companies were charged.
5. Nestle expands
In September, Nestle USA announced it would expand its local operations by adding a seventh production line. The $72 million addition was to increase the production capacity for the company's Boost drink and Carnation Breakfast Essentials drink. Production is expected in 2014.
6. Business openings and closings
The faces of retail and restaurants are always changing in Madison County. New businesses seemed to pop more than businesses that closed. Among those new stores welcomed were Ollie's outlet store, Rose's, Planet Fitness, MedExpress Urgent Care, Qdoba, Panda Express and Sears Hometown Store. The signs were good but many residents are still hoping for that big-impact employer. Among the closings were Carter Lumber, Cyclce Machining Co., Speck's Pet Supplies and the Arby's by Mounds Mall.
7. Church bankruptcies
Reflecting a trend not seen around here, two churches went through bankruptcy proceedings. Madison Park Church of God filed for bankruptcy saying it had relied on developing 200 acres around its south side home when it moved to Providence Drive and those never happened. But it was the Lindberg Church bankruptcy that was watched by other congregations. It had obtained a $2.5 million loan from STAR Financial Bank and took out life insurance policies on its members to pay off the debt. But congregation members didn't pass away and the church lost its building.
8. Ivy Tech campus gets boost
In April, many were pleasantly surprised that the State Budget Committee announced it would release $20 million for the development of Ivy Tech's long proposed campus along Interstate 69. Local efforts would need to raise an additional $4 million. With a consistent location for the campus, there were some assurances of continuing employment as well as drawing even more students to study - and shop - in Anderson.
9. Warner Bodies moves to Elwood
Noblesville-based Warner Bodies moved its manufacturing facility to Elwood's former Plastech site, bringing an estimated 150 jobs with it. The city gave the company a 10-year tax abatement as it planned for the company to being operations in January and close the Noblesville site by 2015. Under Mayor Ron Arnold's administration, the city had an agreement with Warner allowing city offices to accept applications on behalf of the company for the jobs being created.
10. Study finds job potential growing
Anderson was named as one of two Indiana cities that experienced accelerated economic growth from 2012 to 2013, according to a national study. The study released through the U.S. Conference of Mayors and performed by IHS Global Insight showed only Anderson and Kokomo had a significant upturn in economic activity. The study found Anderson’s 2013 growth is 2 percent higher compared to a 1.6 percent growth rate in 2012, and Kokomo’s growth rate for the same period was 2.2 percent as compared to 1.6 percent.