Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

June 30, 2013

Manufacturing facilities up for sale

Former Delphi properties listed for reuse.

By Scott Smith Kokomo Tribune
Kokomo Tribune

---- — The Engineering Resource Center on Lincoln Road was a white-collar hub where electrical diagrams, computer files and blueprints were the primary means of communication.

Delco Plant 5 was a manufacturing operation, making circuit boards back when making circuit boards was a dirty operation.

Both former General Motors properties are on the market for redevelopment and they’ve both got significant backing to help make that happen.

Duke Energy announced plans last week to develop a marketing plan for the 181,000-square-foot ERC building, 2100 E. Lincoln Road, as part of the utility company’s 2013 Site Readiness Program. The building is owned by General Motors Components Holdings LLC.

A site visit, followed by a very detailed questionnaire for local economic development officials, follow-up questions and meetings will all be a part of developing a tailored marketing plan for the office building. The company is working with InSite Consulting, of Greer, S.C., on the plan.

“It’s really about getting community leaders together to see what they can do to increase marketing around the building,” said Misty McCammack, an economic development manager with Duke.

Duke has an economic interest in marketing the building, as any occupant is bound to purchase electricity from the utility. But producing a formal marketing presentation is a bonus for the community, which has been seeking, with varying amounts of success, to adjust to the lower employment levels at the former Delphi/Delco properties along the bypass.

Duke officials call the Site Readiness Program “the cornerstone of Duke Energy’s economic development model.”

“The Duke Energy Site Readiness Program strengthens our ongoing efforts to attract business to north-central Indiana,” said Chris Hamm, president and CEO of the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance. “We are always looking for ideas and innovation to help create new development and new jobs.”

“For many years, Duke Energy has partnered with local economic development organizations to help bring jobs and economic vitality to the communities we serve,” said Laura Sheets, Duke Energy Indiana north district manager. “We look forward to helping prepare this building for prospective large business and industrial companies.”

Delco Plant 5

On the other end of Kokomo, a former Delco circuit board manufacturing site, 1723 N. Washington St., is about to undergo a $7.3 million cleanup effort, funded through the 2009 General Motors bankruptcy plan.

Even though the site, which is contaminated by volatile organic chemicals, is in a vastly different condition than the ERC building, it is still a part of the city’s auto manufacturing legacy.

Bill Callen, a spokesman for the RACER Trust, the entity created by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to oversee the cleanup and reuse marketing of 89 former GM properties in 14 states, said the Plant 5 cleanup is slated to begin soon.

When it does, the aim will be to clean the site to a level where a business can come in without fear of future liability.

“The goal is to obtain what is known in the industry as a ‘no further action letter’ from the [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency], which basically certifies the site is clean,” Callen said. “It just offers some legal protection to interested developers.”

GM operated the manufacturing site from 1953 until 1991, according to the RACER Trust’s marketing brochure for the site. The buildings on the site were demolished in 1993, and the trust took control of the property in 2011.

Scott Smith can be reached at 765-454-8569 or at scott.smith@kokomotribune.com