David Sullivan, co-owner of Crawford Industries said, "When we decided to invest in the company's future our first decision was whether to expand our Crawfordsville facility or establish a new operation in Texas which would be close to a significant customer base on the West Coast." Montgomery County Economic Development (MCED), the Mayor's office and the City Council, went to work to make sure that Crawfordsville came out first on the list of pros and cons.

The story might end here, except that Crawford Industries is located in the Shelley Drain watershed. The drain, described in last week's article, matters.

By the time he finished mapping the Shelley Drain in early 2012, Surveyor Tom Cummins learned enough to justify his optimism that cost effective solutions for the Shelley Drain problems are at hand. For example, although much of the Shelley Drain is still functional, the section between Traction Road and State Road 32 east of Englewood Drive is completely broken down. This section can be replaced. A drainage structure behind Raybestos serves no current purpose but puts unnecessary pressure on the drain. It can be removed. He found that the entire western section of the drain was severed, probably during the construction of a storm water line in the 60s. Starting in 2013, landowners in that section will be exempt from paying maintenance assessment for the Shelley Drain since their surface water is draining into the city storm water line. Although flooding at the Meadow Wood apartment complex is a problem, the flooding is due to the low pocket of land on which the complex was built, not the Shelley Drain. A retention pond will solve this problem.

By the fall of 2012, with the drain mapped, some sections repaired, and money in the maintenance fund to begin repair of other sections, the Drainage Board rescinded the resolution it passed in 1998 to restrict construction in the Shelley Drain watershed. When Crawford Industries approached MCED about expanding on the property they own west of their facility, they did not know that the opportunity to expand was possible for the first time since 1998.

The company, located behind Raybestos on Darlington Avenue, makes polyolefin plastic sheeting for a nation-wide and Canadian market. Some product is sold as sheeting and some is finished as binders, folders, and boxes for customers such as Starbucks, The Container Store, and even MCED. Its founder, Ken Crawford sold the 40-year-old company in 1999 to its current owners, Horizon Five Star Companies comprised of George Faulstich, Kendall Faulstich, and David Sullivan.

Sullivan said the decision to expand in Crawfordsville, rather than open a new one in Texas, is because they own the land and they value the quality and loyalty of their employees. The City is offering another incentive by abating, or phasing in, taxes over the next seven years for the personal property and ten years for the real estate.

This expansion is like many others nation-wide. High tech production equipment, often robotic, requires fewer but more skilled workers. Although Crawford is adding only 14 new jobs, they are high skilled ones. Crawford is also investing five million dollars in its plant and in Montgomery County. The goal is to repeat the partnership between a strong company and a business-friendly community again and again in the months and years to come.

Deanna Durrett is the Public Relations Director for Montgomery County Economic Development.