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Martinrea’s expansion’s good news for Harrison County

In recent years, it seems we’ve had little to crow about when it comes to manufacturing development, save of course the good news that Lucas Oil Products had chosen to locate here. As a result of that, not only does an up-and-coming production company move full tilt ahead in north Corydon, but it has also ensured the railroad will be here to serve others who wish to do the same. And there’s been at least one direct off-shoot, that of Howard Packaging, a company that provides packaging material to Lucas.
Neither of those companies are offering anything like the jobs that were lost when Tower Automotive and Keller Manufacturing Co. shut down in recent years. So we still have a lot of catching up to do.
That’s one reason why the Harrison County Council hardly seems to hiccup when a company comes before it with news of an impending expansion, one that, in the long run, will lead to an increase in jobs.
Naysayers will point to Tower Automotive and Keller’s tax abatements, the first of which hardly ran out before Tower escaped, and the second, Keller’s, hardly took effect before the company had closed up shop.
The way tax abatements work, Harrison County gives up all of the revenue an expansion would generate ‘ through an increase in assessed valuation ‘ only in the first year. In the second year, five percent of the property taxes generated by the expansion are assessed.
In ensuing years, the amount of property tax collected continues to rise, until the 10th year, when the tax break only amounts to a five-percent reduction. So Harrison County’s property tax revenue increases incrementally each year. Tower Automotive didn’t get off scot-free. And in those years, the County Adjusted Gross Income Tax paid by workers to Harrison County remained constant.
Recently, the Martinrea Co., the Canadian-based company that took over the bankrupt Oxford Automotive Plant in Corydon, announced a $6.1 million investment in new equipment at the Corydon plant. The plant operated by Martinrea is the ICON Metal Forming Plant, which initially was known as Lobdell Emery. Anyone who drives north of Corydon on S.R. 135 toward Interstate 64 can see the plant down in the valley, hard by Big Indian Creek. Day and night, the cars of workers fill the parking lot as the plant operates three shifts daily.
On Oct. 10, the council unanimously granted the 10-year tax abatement to help the company purchase the new equipment.
‘Things are going well,’ Sean Callahan, the plant’s general manager, told the council minutes before the tax abatement was granted. ‘Our company is growing. We’re adding jobs here; we’re seeking diversity.’
That last part, too, is encouraging.
Martinrea is savvy enough to heed grandpa’s old advice, the kind you don’t need a master’s in business to figure out: ‘Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.’
We are encouraged by Martinrea’s readiness to invest in the community. And by the council’s astuteness in helping Martinrea along the way.