[r54] Economic development gives us something to celebrate (3/6/2012)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Start Date: 3/6/2012
End Date: 3/6/2012

In an economy that is slowly finding its way out of the recession, hearing job announcements or corporate expansion can be hard to come by. Saying that, I find it is important to take the time to recognize all of the economic development happening in our community in Henry County.

Specifically, I would like to write about the expansion of the New Castle Correctional Facility. I am proud to congratulate the facility on their new 512-bed annex – making it the second-largest prison in Indiana with a total capacity of 3,196 offenders.

Despite some resistance to the initial construction of the prison 10 years ago, the expansion of the correctional facility created 66 new jobs in our community. In total, the New Castle Correctional Facility will now employ more than 500 local residents.

The correctional facility has proven to be a good corporate neighbor throughout its years of development and its contribution to job growth here in Henry County. I would like to commend the state and the managing GEO Group for their continuous hard work on the site as well.

In case you’re not familiar, the New Castle facility is a private-public partnership between the GEO Group and the Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC). The IDOC entered into contract with the Geo Group to operate and manage the facility. In fact, the GEO Group funded the $23 million new construction project per their agreement with IDOC.

I was asked to participate in last Wednesday’s unveiling of the new annex, but – much to my regret – because we are in the final weeks of session and due to our hectic legislative schedule at the Statehouse, I was unable to attend. However, although I was not in attendance, I have had the opportunity to tour this facility multiple times, and I’ve been nothing short of impressed.

Within the walls of the facility, they have numerous programs aimed at rehabilitating the inmates. Programs include a faith and character-based program preparing them for re-entry in society, educational courses helping them acquire degrees and even classes to enhance their skills in culinary arts.

Under the management of the GEO Group, the facility also works to enhance our local communities. Inmates have contributed thousands of volunteer hours throughout the state. Additionally, the facility donated $30,000 to organizations throughout the state last year alone.

This facility is a premiere example of economic development; however, this is not the only project happening in Henry County. A project gradually developing a new Ivy Tech Community College campus is currently in the works. Additionally, Crown Equipment recently announced their plans to move their plant into the area.

With economic woes plaguing most of the country, our local communities are instead attracting business and creating jobs – something worth celebrating.