Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

February 10, 2013

Tipton ED moves forward

Task forces beginning work on expansion.

By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune enterprise editor

Tipton — With the hiring of a new executive director, the Tipton County Economic Development Organization is starting to work with four task forces consisting of volunteers.

The Tipton County Economic Development Organization gave an update to the Tipton County Economic Development Alliance, consisting of seven county and city of Tipton officials.

Jeff Sheridan, who was hired as executive director Jan. 1, said he is working with Chrysler and the state of Indiana on the proposed transmission plant at the intersection of U.S. 31 and Ind. 28 that is expected to bring 850 jobs to the area.

He is also working on the possible expansion of the Pioneer plant in Tipton to bring a new line of seeds to the facility that could bring an investment of $13.5 million and up to 20 jobs to the county.

“I have made several attempts to communicate with Steel Parts,” Sheridan said. “They are still in negotiations.”

The owners of Steel Parts announced intentions to close the Tipton plant in March, but are in negotiations with the United Steelworkers union on a possible new contract that would keep the facility operating.

“I’m working with the mayor with a company that wants to expand in Tipton,” Sheridan said. “I walked in on several projects that could have a significant impact on the community in the future.”

Sheridan has met with the Business Retention and Growth task force, which started work in 2012.

Mike Harlowe, president of the TCEDO, said work taking place to put the other three task forces in place. Those task forces will focus on: Agribusiness development; Long term economic impact of the U.S. 31 corridor; and attracting families to the county.”

“We want all the task forces to be on the same page in terms of direction and goals,” he said.

Alliance members decided not to set specific tasks for the TCEDO which is being funded by $150,000 from the city of Tipton and Tipton County through the Economic Development Income tax.

“We would be inserting ourselves at not the right time,” Tipton Mayor Don Havens, said of setting specific tasks.

When asked about the $25,000 received by the TCEDO from the city and county in 2012, Harlowe said the funds were used for start-up costs such as legal fees and paying Sheridan in January and February.

Harlowe said the TCEDO had no intention of returning the funds to the government entities.

Some of the funds were used to sign a contract with Linda Williamson, the economic development consultant paid by the county, to work with Sheridan during the transition, he said.

Harlowe said the contract with Williamson was for two months.

Havens said the funding for the TCEDO could be adjusted when they request funds from the city and county.

Currently Sheridan has an office in the Tipton County Courthouse with the intent of leasing space outside the government offices by the end of the year.

Commissioner Mike Cline said the TCEDO has expressed a willingness to pay rent to the county for the space, but no discussions have taken place.