Recently, Nucor Steel corporate officials chose a site in Brandenburg Kentucky for a substantial new plate manufacturing facility. We should all be proud that Crawfordsville and Montgomery County were under consideration up until the final decision was made.
The effort that went into the final proposal shows how dedicated our local officials are to bringing continued economic growth to fruition. Cheryl Morphew is president of CRMorphew Consulting and economic development consultant to the City of Crawfordsville and Montgomery County. She illustrated how tirelessly everyone worked to try to bring this huge project to our area at a recent League of Women Voters “Lunch With the League” program.
Last October 16, Cheryl received an RFI (Request for Information) from the IDEC (Indiana Economic Development Corporation, Indiana's lead economic development agency). It was for a very large project. Originally dubbed “Mega Midwest” (the name of the actual company was withheld, as is often the case). It required 1,000 acres of land, rail service and a navigable river. Since there was no 1000-acre site with a navigable river in Montgomery County, she could not respond.
Then on January 3, 2019, Cheryl (while on vacation out of state) was contacted by the IEDC and told that “Mega Midwest” was interested in Montgomery County. Sites in three other states, Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio were also competing. Lines of communication were set up immediately and, soon after, it was rumored that Nucor Steel was the company known as “Mega Midwest.” A few days later, local Nucor officials were contacted and confirmed that this was indeed a facility they were competing for internally. They also disclosed that about 400 acres were actually needed. Montgomery County was in the running and by the very next day, a Letter of Support was submitted by the Commissioners.
From then on and through mid-February, both independent and collaborative meetings and conference calls were held between local Nucor officials and stakeholders. This group included city and county elected and appointed leaders, utility partners, CSX, INDOT (Indiana Department of Transportation) and IDEC. On February 6, Indiana Secretary of Commerce Jim Schellinger met with leaders at the Crawfordsville Nucor plant to discuss the project.
Throughout this whole cycle, a plethora of various factors needed to be both determined and evaluated. What types and combinations of incentives must be considered, such as tax abatement for real and/or personal property and TIF (Tax Increment Finance)? In addition, road, water, and sewage improvements would have to be made and coordinated. Before any decisions could be made, an estimate of the tax revenue to be generated from the project was completed. Due to the sheer size of the project, estimates were staggering: nearly $155 million over the next 20 years. On February 12, an incentive offer letter was submitted. Unbelievably, all this complicated and detailed work was put together in just a little over a month.
Although Kentucky was chosen as the site, it was by no means a wasted effort. Cheryl and the rest of the team built strong and lasting relationships with local business, Indiana State agencies, utilities and community leaders. They showed how, working together, we can build strategic lines of cooperation to ensure growth and prosperity in Montgomery County. The League of Women Voters applauds their accomplishments and the transparency of their efforts.
The League of Women Voters, open to men as well as women, is a nonpartisan, multi-issue political organization which encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase public understanding of major policy issues and influences public policy through education and advocacy. For information about the League, visit the website: www.lwvmontco.org or send a message to LWV, P.O. Box 101, Crawfordsville, IN 47933