05. 02. 2009Corey Carr, president of Columbus Economic Development Board suggested securing contracts for Indiana Research Institute to rebuild engines for military Humvees.read more

Pence, Hill see recession slowing–Congressmen, executives expect more jobs lost
The Republic, May 21, 2009
By Kirk Johannesen

Columbus business leaders said the recession seems to have reached its bottom – but they expressed concern to two congressmen Friday about when to expect an upswing.

U.S. reps. Mike Pence, R-Ind., and Baron Hill D-Ind., listened to representatives of some of the city’s largest companies during a forum at City Hall so they could gain knowledge of how businesses are faring locally.

Pence and Hill said the recovery will take more time and the full impact of the stimulus bill will not be known for a while, because the bulk of the stimulus money has not yet been distributed.

While formulaic money for projects has been distributed, procuring other money has been frustrating, said Cory Carr, president of Columbus Economic Development Board.

He worries that communities lose some funding because the rules for obtaining some of the money are unclear or have not been established.
Despite the frustrations, Carr said economic development activity is picking up because some companies are seeking opportunities.

He suggested securing contracts for Indiana Research Institute (IRI) to rebuild engines for military Hmmvees.

IRI remanufactures engines for Bradley Fighting Vehicles.

“I see (Camp) Atterbury, Muscatatuck (Urban Training Center) and Crane (Naval Surface Warfare Center) as a big opportunity for investments, “Pence said.

Martin Agnew, president of PMG Indiana Corp., asked if the worst had passed.

He said PMG has rehired 10 percent of the work force it has laid off. Also, the company’s sales have increased 40 percent from January through April, but still lagged 30 to 40 percent behind last year’s first quarter.

Agnew said worries that smaller companies that supply Chrysler and General Motors might fail when the auto companies shut their plants for about two months this summer.

“We need to do something to help the suppliers who can’t sustain themselves,’ Agnew said.

PMG is helping some of its suppliers stay afloat because, Agnew said.

Pence said he welcomed Chrysler’s decision to go through bankruptcy organization because it will allow people to understand the company’s problems and see how it will function in the future.

Major Fred Armstrong, who helped organize the meeting, said it provided some verification that the recession has reached a bottom—but not that an upswing would happen soon.

“It wasn’t optimistic, but it certainly was honest,” Armstrong said.