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Editorial: Forecast for Columbus jobs looking bright, sunny

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BARTHOLOMEW County’s economic outlook received additional good news last week when Cummins Inc. announced multimillion dollar investment plans that would result in more employees in the county.

The diesel engine maker said at the July 2 Columbus City Council meeting that it would build a $15 million, 428,000-square-foot warehouse on County Road 450S near Walesboro that would serve as a parts distribution center. The project will consolidate 80 employees from Cummins operations in Bartholomew, Jackson and Johnson counties and create 25 new jobs.

Also at the meeting, the company said it would begin a $5.2 million renovation of the former Irwin Union building at 525 Jackson St. After remodeling the 1973, four-story addition, Cummins plans to move 149 employees to the downtown building from other Cummins facilities around Bartholomew County.

The announcements have multiple, positive implications.

The first is that it is another investment by the global Fortune 500 company in its birthplace.

An additional 25 jobs, which pay $10 to $15 per hour, is a good sign for the company and demonstrates that Columbus has an attractive business climate. And, it represents an additional $520,000 to $780,000 in payroll being added to the county’s economy.

Since a portion of the 80 current employees who will be consolidated at that warehouse will come from neighboring counties, that’s more people here who are likely to be spending money at local stores.

And when the 149 Cummins employees are consolidated at the remodeled downtown Jackson Street building, that’s sure to have a significant economic impact on downtown restaurants and shops.

Cummins’ announcements further demonstrate that Bartholomew County is faring better than other communities with job creation and employment.

Sunright America, a maker of automotive fasteners, announced in mid-June that it would invest $34.7 million to build two additional manufacturing plants in Columbus and create another 103 jobs.

Also in June, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development released jobs information that showed that Bartholomew County’s May unemployment rate of 6.3 percent was the fifth-lowest among the state’s 92 counties.

Also, the county had added 390 jobs in a year’s time, a growth rate of 1 percent that was better than 10 of the state’s 14 metro areas. And the county’s near-record labor force of 41,679 expanded by 428, or 1 percent — a sign that people are moving here to find employment.

At a time when other Indiana communities are struggling to attract or retain jobs, the forecast for Columbus and Bartholomew County appears sunny.

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