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Location, location, location quotient

By TRAVIS WEIK - tweik@thecouriertimes.com

There are new manufacturing jobs coming to East Central Indiana and they are literally putting food on the table.

New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) President and CEO Corey Murphy said Henry County and the surrounding areas are becoming a hot bed of agricultural business, or agribusiness.

Agribusiness isn’t limited to fields and livestock yard. It extends to laboratory-like facilities and logistical distribution centers, all of which can be found within a short drive from just about anywhere in Henry County.

“There’s a concentration – and a growing concentration – of food manufacturing in our region,” Murphy said. “It is certainly a target sector.”

New Castle got the Boar’s Head manufacturing plant and distribution center within the past couple of years and Middletown welcomed Holic Foods to a former biofuel plant.

Murphy especially appreciates that Holic Foods is giving new life to an empty building and bring new business and jobs to that part of the county.

“This is a great, great project,” Murphy said. “That was a fun one.”

Henry County is primed to bring MicroNutrients to the area, too. MicroNutrients produces nutrients for animal feed.

Murphy pointed east down Interstate 70 to Blue Buffalo Co.’s newest Heartland manufacturing and research & development facility in Richmond. The facility produces natural pet food. The new Blue Buffalo factory is expected to provide 165 new manufacturing jobs when its fully up and running.

Richmond Baking Company and Cafe Valley are other examples of the food industry’s presence in East Central Indiana.

Cambridge City is also home to a Dot Foods Distribution Center, which moves food to market.

As more and more food manufacturers and distributors and agribusiness plants move to the area, the region’s “location quotient” increases.

According to Economic Modeling Specialists Inc. (EMSI), a location quotient is basically a way of quantifying how concentrated a particular industry, cluster, occupation or demographic group is in a region as compared to the nation.

“It can reveal what makes a particular region ‘unique’ in comparison to the national average,” EMSI said. 

Murphy said a location quotient above 1.25 is considered a competitive advantage.

“Our location quotient for food manufacturing in this region is 1.6,” he said.

Another piece of the “location” puzzle that companies look for is whether or not Henry County can quickly provide the infrastructure it needs to grow.

Along with the location quotient, the EDC uses Henry County’s “shell building” to show interested investors how their facilities could look.

The 50,000 sq. ft. building can expand to 200,000 sq. ft., if needed. The site already has drainage installed, too.

There are 15-20 similar buildings in other counties around Indiana, Murphy said.

Murphy said Henry County received 16 requests from possible investors between May and October. Ten of those came in specifically because the county has a shell building.

Before building it’s new plant on the south side of County Road 400 South, Boar’s Head initially looked at the shell building.

“It is our marketing,” Murphy said. “If you don’t have a building, you’re going to miss out on about 75 percent (of site searches).”