Terre Haute mayor bullish on momentum from Entek investment
The mayor of Terre Haute says last week’s announcement by Oregon-based Entek detailing plans to invest $1.5 billion to build a new battery component manufacturing campus in the city stands above any other economic development project in the city’s history.
The company initially plans to add four buildings totaling 1.4 million square feet on a portion of the former Pfizer property in the Vigo County Industrial Park II and add nearly 650 jobs.
Mayor Duke Bennett said the city’s location and proximity to higher-education institutions made Terre Haute attractive to the company.
In an interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick, Bennett said the deal was made in rather rapid fashion.
“If you think about this, the conversation didn’t even start till October and it closed this week,” Bennett said. “That’s pretty fast for a project of this size. And so, I think all those things coming together lead to that.”
Entek CEO Larry Keith emphasized the education component in an interview with IIB last week. Bennett said having schools like Indiana State University, Ivy Tech Community College, and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, among others, nearby will benefit the city as well as the company.
“There’s always the conversations about, ‘How do you keep college kids in a community?’ Well, here’s an opportunity for 642 jobs; their wages are going to be about $71,000 a year. It’ll give us a chance to keep some of those kids here when they do graduate.”
Bennett said finding the workforce to fill the new jobs is a concern, along with housing, childcare and other issues.
“When you land a big opportunity like this, you’re thinking, ‘Okay, that just multiplies the problem.’ And so we’re working on those things, but we’re going to have to really move quickly in order to make this work.”
The mayor said the Entek investment is the latest in a series of projects that he believes will grow the city’s profile.
“It’s been coming for the last few years, and that’s coming to fruition,” he said. “I mean, it’s going to be over $2 billion worth of investment in private sector in the last few years.”