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Lucas Oil gets $94,000 incentive to expand here

Lucas Oil Products, now based in California, Monday night got the $94,000 incentive it needs to expand in Harrison County.
The Harrison County Council, voting 5-1, approved the funds for infrastructure development, including an extension of water and sewer lines and railroad service to the company’s proposed site at the north end of Harrison Way. That amount will be matched by the state, plus $30,000 for workforce development training.
Councilman Kenneth Saulman’s motion to approve the spending from riverboat revenue was seconded by Carl (Buck) Mathes.
“I think this is a good investment for our county,” said Mathes. “It will be opening up a little more area for commercial use.
“It will get the railroad a little closer to the next section.”
The money, he added, won’t be given to an individual. “It’s an asset to the county,” Mathes added. “If this company doesn’t use it, somebody else will.”
Councilman Alvin Brown cast the nay vote, saying $94,000 is too large an incentive package for a company which would eventually bring only 50 jobs.
But Brian Fogle, economic development director for the Chamber of Commerce of Harrison County, said the state had analyzed the return on investment and decided in favor of Lucas Oil Products.
Responding to some earlier concerns about the company’s record regarding the environment, Fogle told the council a further check of the company’s record, which dates to 1989, had shown no violations of some 22 federal and 18 California environmental standards. The record was researched by a Louisville environmental company, Fogle said.
Should the company obtain a state permit to locate here, Fogle said, Lucas would be required to file regular reports with the Indiana Dept. of Environmental Management and would be inspected regularly by that agency.
Further, the company’s financial record reflects no problems. “There are no difficulties which would cause a company to cut corners, Fogle said. “This is a stellar company.”
A representative of the Chamber has been hired to visit the company’s home base at Corona, Calif., and report its findings.
The council at first considered waiting for that report, but time is of the essence in purchasing the property, Fogle said.
Instead, Terry L. Miller, chair of the Harrison County Commissioners who must approve or reject the check before it is released, said, “If it is a bad report, we will squash it.”
Lucas Oil Products was founded in 1989 by Forrest Lucas and his wife, Charlotte. The firm produces a line of automotive oils, greases and additives.
Lucas announced plans in December to expand here, with a production workforce of 40 and an administrative staff of 10, once the operation gets in full swing. Wages would be in the $12 hourly range, compared to an average of wage here of $11 hourly.
The company plans to construct its facility on four acres of the 19 acres it plans to buy, which would leave room for expansion.
In other matters Monday night, the council:
— Re-elected Gary Davis as chair and Carl Duley, vice chairman, with accolades. “You know, Gary, you have done a great job as chairman and Carl Duley as vice chairman,” Brown said, moving to re-elect both. His motion, seconded by Kenneth Saulman, passed unanimously. Mathes was also reappointed to the plan commission, a job he has handled well, council members said.
— Announced that no action would be taken that night on a discussion during executive session with commissioners concerning the possible purchase of property in downtown Corydon. “We may act on that later,” Davis said.
— Approved $191,528 in riverboat revenue sharing for towns, neighboring towns and counties. With the latest quarterly payment of revenue from Caesars at Bridgeport, Harrison County has received $57.3 million since the gambling boat arrived in November, 1998.
The council’s next meeting, a planning session, is Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. at the courthouse.