Cummins Inc.’s decision to invest $219 million to establish its high-engine business in Seymour may dramatically alter the city’s landscape in the years to come.
Those changes include the city’s Gateway Project at Interstate 65 and downtown, and a Fortune 500 company with a presence on the city’s version of Main Street — East Tipton Street.
Officials also plan to declare the acreage Cummins is developing along Tipton Street south of the CSX Transportation rail line a tax increment financing district.
“That would allow us to capture the tax revenue and put it back into the area,” Mayor Craig Luedeman said Wednesday.
Seymour Redevelopment Commission would establish the district, and the funds collected would go toward infrastructure improvement such as roads and sewers, Luedeman said.
The city is in the process of completing a contract with the state for the Gateway Project to improve the entrance to the city on Tipton Street at Interstate 65.
That project has been in the planning stages for several years, and the city is working with the state to obtain some of the incentives Cummins decided to forgo, Luedeman said, to help finance that project.
“We’re also looking at doing the Gateway Park,” Luedeman said, referring to plans to build a park in the downtown area that once held railroad buildings.
He said the goal is to attract more retail stores and restaurants to the city, and Cummins’ announcement, which included the addition of 290 jobs, will help reach that goal.
Jim Plump, executive director of Jackson County Industrial Development Corp., agreed that Cummins’ announcement could lead to major improvements for not just Seymour, but the county as well.
“There is the potential for other sectors of the economy to move here,” Plump said.
Plump said it’s certainly possible that some companies in the service and retail sectors will take a second look at Seymour and its potential.
Plump said Cummins’ announcement that it plans to make Seymour the headquarters for its high-power engine business bodes well for employment opportunities.
“These jobs and future jobs are not only going to be in manufacturing,” Plump said.
Part of the company’s plans include a building to accommodate 500 people, and Plump said Cummins Chief Executive Officer Tom Linebarger talked about the need for not just engineers, but finance and other positions, as well.
At least one piece of property might be off the table if Cummins eventually looks to expand even farther.
That would be the former state police post site on Tipton Street, across Arvin Avenue from the former Indiana Department of Transportation garage that Cummins is taking over as part of its expansion.
Connie Smith, communications manager with the Indiana Department of Administration, said Wednesday the post property is not for sale at this time. It had been listed before, however.
“It would have to be listed surplus, and it’s not,” Smith said. She said the Indiana Department of Natural Resources also has declared the post a historic structure and added the communications tower is still being used by the Indiana State Police.
Plump said he has never discussed the state police post site with the state, and that it was never on the table during talks with Cummins.
J.L. Brewer, director of the Jackson County Community Corrections program, said that agency’s advisory board continues to look at the post property, which also includes a garage, for a potential site for a work-release program that might be established.
“The state has offered us a lease for $1 a year for 10 years for the post,” Brewer said.
Smith said she wasn’t aware of possible negotiations but said Brewer did contact the Department of Administration about the possible use of the post for a work-release center.
He said there has been a push by the state to keep more Class D felony offenders in the county where their crimes were committed.
“Those who send more to the state will be penalized,” Brewer said.
Converting the garage at the post into a 50-bed work-release center could help Jackson County avoid that problem, he said.
“It would be self-supporting,” Brewer said.
Those sentenced to the program would have to pay about $15 a day, purchase their own meals and toiletries and pay their own medical expenses. They would leave the center only to go to work, he said.
Brewer said such a program could benefit taxpayers, unlike the jail, where the county pays the costs.
The state police property, however, is only one option the corrections program advisory board is exploring, and Brewer said a decision won’t be made until a space-needs plan is closer to being put in place by county commissioners.