News From Terre Haute, Indiana

December 28, 2013

2013 A year in review: Economic progress

From factory expansion to new retail development to oil exploration, all show business was booming in the Valley

Arthur Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — After years with virtually no big new job announcements in the area – other than plant closings and layoffs – the Wabash Valley got some good news in 2013 when North American Lighting, an Edgar County, Ill.-based business, announced it would be adding hundreds of new jobs.

NAL, based in Paris, Ill., announced it was adding 233 jobs in 2014 and 77 in 2015. Most of the jobs would be at the operator level and pay about $14 per hour, a company official said. NAL, which is Japanese-owned, said it planned to spend $50 million on a new 200,000 square foot facility. Improved national car sales figures helped bring about the investment.

• JWS Machine, moved its operations from Brazil in Clay County to Terre Haute International Airport in 2013, signing a 20-year lease with the airport authority board. The move brought 50 jobs to the city, and the company announced it would be adding 15 more. Overall, JWS, whose parent company is Stark Industries, invested nearly $4 million in its new facility. Among other things, the company provides machining, laser cutting, fabrication, model and reverse engineering services.

• Neoteric Hovercraft, a long-time Terre Haute hovercraft manufacturer, got a huge jolt of new interest and business after one of its craft was the focus of a viral Internet marketing stunt. Oakley, a sports apparel maker, sponsored the video showing Bubba Watson, then the defending Master’s golf champ, piloting a Neoteric craft designed to function as a golf cart. The video received millions of hits and drew worldwide attention and new demand to Neoteric.

• Meijer, a big box retailer, announced plans to move to Terre Haute’s east side. The new store will be on Indiana 46/U.S. 40 across from the east-side Walmart. It will be on property included in the Terre Haute International Airport’s economic development district. Other businesses were widely expected to follow the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer to the city’s growing east side.

• Pioneer Oil Co., an Illinois-based petroleum producer, constructed a tall oil derrick and started drilling for oil on Indiana State University-owned property near downtown in December. It’s the first time anyone has drilled for oil in downtown Terre Haute in more than a century. If oil is produced from the site, ISU and other downtown property owners will receive royalties from Pioneer.