VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — A unanimous vote has approved a company’s bid for a project expected to bring hundreds of jobs and a $1 billion-plus investment to Vigo County.
The Vigo County Redevelopment Commission approved the bid during a meeting Tuesday afternoon. The $1.5 billion investment will come from an Oregon-based company called ENTEK.
The company will reportedly purchase 340 acres of the former Pfizer property in the Vigo County Industrial Park II.
Steve Witt, the President of the Terre Haute Economic Development Corporation, said he believes it’s a major milestone for the community.
“It’s very gratifying having acquired that property, the county, back in 2012 or so. Having first Saturn Petcare move into the former Pfizer building, and now, having half the acreage occupied by this new company,” he said. “It’s very gratifying but also very exciting as well. We’re thrilled for the community and what this will bring down the road.”
ENTEK CEO Larry Keith said the facility should create about 640 jobs for area residents. He added that he wants the first production lines to be open in 2025 with the facility fully functional by 2027.
He said the company received a $200 million grant from the Department of Energy, and they were in the process of applying for a $900 million loan as well. The company has sites in countries like England, Japan and China– but he said this investment represented the largest investment they had made in a community.
“It will feel really good once we have the loan and the building starts to go up out there,” he said. “It’s exciting for us. We made the announcement well before we knew there was a grant program that was going to be announced, so we already had this in the works.”
ENTEK will offer a wide variety of jobs, according to Keith.
“A whole array of things. There will be maintenance people, there will be engineering, there will be operations so people who run the production line and supply chain, HR, just the whole gambit of everything it takes to run a big plant,” he said.
Keith said the company’s main focus is developing battery separators, and this site will help accomplish that. As for why they chose Vigo County, Witt said the industrial park had all the things they needed for a facility of this magnitude.
“We learned a long time ago to accommodate industry, you have to work at the speed of industry, you have to be ready and be prepared for when they come in, they’re not going to wait around for two years while we build things, that’s the primary reason, and also geography,” Witt said.
Right now, ENTEK is in the process of applying for the proper permits, as well as a tax abatement that the Vigo County Council will decide on. Keith said they were narrowing down who they would use for construction and he expects that decision to be made in the next few weeks– and then, they’ll take the next steps.
“Then, we go to work. We start moving forward.”