Muncie and east central Indiana have been hard hit by plant closings over the past two decades, such as a Chevrolet plant that employed thousands which closed in 2006 and BorgWarner leaving the area in 2009. But there is optimism that the recent groundbreaking of Poland-based CANPACK’s $380 million aluminum can manufacturing facility in Muncie, which could create up to 350 jobs over two years, is part of a turnaround and a diversifying of the economy.
“We believe it’s one of, if not the, largest single significant pieces of manufacturing investment that we’ve had in Delaware County,” said Jay Julian, chief economic development officer of the Muncie-Delaware County Economic Development Alliance.
Julian talked about the region’s economic improvement in an interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.
“Just from a manufacturing perspective, we’ve actually started that process a number of years ago,” said Julian. “Progress Rail came here a few years ago; it was a huge announcement at the time on the heels…of the BorgWarner closure. But then, we’ve had a lot of other really nice hits in the manufacturing arena here recently in the last couple years with Magna [Powertrain] and Muncie Power Products and Mursix and Delaware Dynamics all growing over this past couple of years.”
Julian says while the manufacturing sector in east central Indiana continues to improve, the region’s economy foundation is based more in healthcare and education structures.
“Our two economic engines for all of east central Indiana really are the largest employers: IU Health and Ball State [University],” he said. “Ivy Tech had a nice expansion in our downtown area here in Muncie a couple of years ago. [It] literally changed the skyline.”
Ball State University President Geoffrey Mearns has previously mentioned wanting the university to become more involved in economic development efforts for the community, which Julian says has been happening.
“President Mearns and his team have done a really great job of reaching out into the community, helping, assisting, actually leading a lot of development efforts. It’s been fun to watch. I see great things moving forward for us and again, when you have an engine like Ball State University, IU Health systems, Ivy Tech, we’re in pretty good shape to move forward.”