The Herald Bulletin

March 27, 2012

Economic Development director on the lookout for businesses

By Meira Beinstock
For The Herald Bulletin

— Anderson has a high-capacity electrical power grid, high-quality aquifer and a large amount of skilled labor, making the city a good fit for businesses that seek water, power, logistics or skilled labor.

Through Anderson’s history with General Motors, local workers were trained to manufacture, acquiring the skills to cut gears, assemble and run Computer Numerical Control machines.

As the city’s economic development director, Greg Winkler’s job entails seeking companies that are looking to expand or relocate. He tries to make such companies “give Anderson a hard look.”

“At one point, General Motors employed 32,000 people in this community, and there was a host of electric-powered General Motors manufacturing facilities,” Winkler recounted. “Over the past 35 years, all of those manufacturing facilities have closed down. The electric grid that supported them is still here.”

With General Motors gone, similar jobs are being created — just not enough. A lot of the jobs have gone to Southern states. Many skilled workers have left Anderson to go to work for Honda in Greenfield or Chrysler in Kokomo. Now that Indiana is a right-to-work state, more manufacturers are willing to consider Indiana, and, specifically, Anderson, as options, Winkler said.

Winkler is reaching out to companies that need large amounts of water and power and need access to the interstate.

Anderson is doing many things to attract business, Winkler said. Anderson is maintaining strong relationships with current businesses such as Nestlé, Affiliated Computer Services, and Mancor Industries. Staying active with those companies entails understanding their business needs, such as supply chains and customers.

Anderson is also reaching out to companies in China, Japan, northern Italy and Germany. Anderson can attract international companies, according to Winkler.

“It’s a matter of making sure we target the right international companies,” he said. “And by that, I mean companies that have a business model that fits the assets that we have. We are not going to go out and attract a software design firm; that doesn’t fit the assets that Anderson has. Someone who uses a lot of water, a lot of power, and needs skilled labor, and logistics as far as shipping — that fits Anderson. Those are companies that we can be very competitive with.”