Posted: Saturday, March 7, 2015
By Kevin L. Green The Courier-Times
The New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corporation celebrated a year of successes Thursday in Lewisville at The Gathering.
EDC president and CEO Corey Murphy reported to the full house dinner attendees that $110,250,000 in economic development initiatives were announced in 2014 in Henry County, and $82,500,000 of that is already under construction. Those investments will result in an estimated 240 new jobs, he said, crediting cooperation among local government and business leaders for making it possible.
“Both Henry County government and the city of New Castle provide a solid foundation for executing our mission,” Murphy said. “The common denominator to effective community is leadership. The quality of the public and private leadership drives economic success.”
The evening featured two keynote speakers: Boar’s Head Director of Manufacturing Kevin Horner and L. A. Jennings Building co-developer Ray Willey.
Horner shared a brief history of Boar’s Head, which started as a small business in New York and now distributes a wide range of products to all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Horner noted the New Castle processing facility under construction on County Road 400 South will be the company’s fifth production site. He said the company looked closely at several sites before selecting New Castle for its new plant.
“New Castle was clearly the place to be, and we’re really excited to be here,” he added.
Horner said the Henry County facility should be operational by this time next year and, like Murphy, credited local government and the private business community, along with the EDC, for the company’s decision to locate here. He also said the local plant, which will specialize in turkey, chicken and ham products, is designed for easy expansion and predicted that by 2020 the facility will grow from its original 154,000 square feet to as much as 300,000 square feet.
Horner encouraged those interested in employment at the New Castle facility to regularly check indianacareerconnect.com for job postings and to visit boarshead.com for jobs-related information. Four management positions have been filled; a few more were posted Friday.
Jennings Building co-developer Ray Willey said he and his business partner Bill Brown started looking at the historic structure at 14th and Broad during Mayor Jim Small’s administration and that talks with various officials and potential local investors continued for some time until current Mayor Greg York and city attorney Dave Copenhaver put together a development plan that helped move the project forward.
The top floors of the building, when renovations are complete, will offer apartments while the bottom level will house four new restaurants including a family pizza shop, an Irish pub, and a blues and barbecue venture. These entertainment and dining establishments should all be open before the end of the year, Willey said.
Willey’s company also is involved with the renovation of a building across the street from the Jennings Building that will house Primo, an Italian restaurant scheduled to open next month. The idea, he said, is to create a “destination draw,” an area that will bring people in from near and far, spur additional growth, and “bring Broad Street back to life.”
“There are some really exciting things happening,” Willey said.
Jon Madison, chairman of the EDC, agrees.
“I think 2014 was a very successful year,” Madison said. “Obviously, Boar’s Head is one of the big projects, and then Ray Willey and his group rejuvenating downtown. We also have Gillman Home Center and Vandalia Range and Armory. We have several projects that are going to be new businesses and bring new opportunities for residents of Henry County.”