Honda plant expected
to change economic landscape
of growth being felt
in neighboring communities, officials say
(January 2008) Greensburg, Ind., a small city
in the southeastern part of the state, has always been just like its
neighbors. Easily accessible from I-74 and I-65, the city, part of Decatur
County, Ind., is situated a mere 47 miles from Indianapolis. With its
population just more than 10,000, the city has thrived on its friendly,
small town atmosphere. Most people seem know each other, and community
events draw large crowds of locals for support.
About the only thing that sets Greensburg apart from its neighbors appeared
to be the famous tree growing out of the roof of the courthouse tower.
But then in June 2006, Honda Corp. announced it would build a $550 million
production plant on 1,700 acres in Greensburg. When completed by fall
2008, the plant will employee 2,000 workers.
Hondas announcement has dramatically changed economic development
in Greensburg. It has also affected many of the small cities and towns
that neighbor Greensburg.
Melanie Maxwell, tourism director for Greensburg-Decatur County, said
interest in the town has exploded. Before the Honda announcement,
she said the towns website drew about 3,000 views a month. Now
more than 15,000 hits are recorded on the website a month.
Along with this wonderful announcement has come some unique growing
pains for our community, she said. But we are excited about
this tremendous economic opportunity for our community.
Already, changes can be seen around the town. Although the Honda plant
will not be operational until fall 2008, there is an influx of construction
companies in the town. Highway 421, a major travel route running through
the city, is being widened to include four lanes and a turning lane.
Several new restaurants have opened, including a Starbucks and a Buffalo
Wings and Rings. Hampton Inn & Suites is building a new hotel, and
several retail companies have looked for land in the town.
Greensburg developer Bob Rynard owns the Holiday Inn Express and the
towns movie theater. We have seen a tremendous growth in
attendance at our hotel since the announcement was made, he said.
We believe we will see an increase over the long-term for the
Rynard owns 34 acres of land situated directly across the road from
where the Honda plant will be located. Before the announcement, the
property housed a nine-hole golf course. Now Rynard is negotiating with
several big box or large retailers. We are talking
with Kroger Co., Lowes Home Improvement and Kohls Department
Store, he said. Prior to Hondas plans to build here,
the only big box retailer we had was Wal-Mart.
He said there has been a growth in housing construction as well, including
the approval for 300 new housing lots. Many of the employees coming
to the plant will need housing; this certainly will generate new rooftops.
He believes the entire region will eventually benefit economically because
of the ancillary support the plant will need.
Jean Johannigman owns Jean and Co Decorating in downtown Greensburg.
While she has seen no direct benefit yet from the Honda plants
decision to locate in her town, she believes it should generate more
business for everyone.
Johannigman is a member of the Downtown Greensburg Development Corp.
The group is working to attract business to the downtown area of the
city by developing second stories of the buildings or adding high speed
connectivity to attract more professionals. The real benefit will
be what we make it, she said. We have many quality of life
issues to certainly consider.
We certainly believe the new Honda plant in our community is a
positive step for us, said incoming Greensburg Mayor Gary
Herbert, who will take office in January. While the effects are
hard to determine at this point in time, all businesses in the area
will be indirectly affected.
He believed the entire region will benefit from the jobs brought into
the area and the money that will be kept in it. Other towns nearby
have opportunities to be suppliers and put more money into their economies,
as well, he said.
At this point, the city has spent $56 million on infrastructure upgrades
to water and sewer systems. Herbert said railroad crossing are going
to have to be upgraded because trains are coming back through the town,
and there is the possibility a new fire station may need to be added
to the southern part of the city.
We have had to work hard to keep everything on schedule,
he said. We have more work to be done, but we are ecstatic to
have the Honda plant in our community.
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