[r63] Advancing the U.S. Navy in the Hoosier heartland

Posted by: Zach Weismiller  | Friday, August 16, 2013

As the month of August flies by, I am looking forward to the annual Indiana Legislative Tour at the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) in Crane, Ind. The event is coming up in just a little over one week and will provide an excellent opportunity for legislators to learn more about the facility and the significant role that it plays in our part of the state. 

This occasion also provides an opportunity for me to share with all of you some background on these operations that many people know very little about, even in our area.  The Crane Division is a shore command of the U.S. Navy, operating under the Naval Sea Systems Command which is headquartered in Washington DC. This 100 square mile facility, located right here in the heartland of Indiana, is home to 3,068 Navy employees. This makes it the 3rd largest Navy installation in the world.

Since March 2004 and the federal approval of the I-69 corridor, there has been quite the buzz surrounding Crane and southern Indiana. Although it just recently became a reality, the idea for this corridor was decades in the making. At the peak of construction in 2011, I-69 was the longest contiguous new terrain interstate project in the country. Ultimately, it is meant to provide a major artery between the northern and southern ends of the United States. 

This puts Indiana in an enviable position in the movement of goods and services throughout the country and allows our state to attract new, competitive jobs. Unfortunately, in the recent past, the corridor region has experienced below-average growth in numerous important indicators of economic success, including employment, population and personal income. 

Area officials viewed the construction of I-69, particularly the area from Evansville to Crane as an excellent opportunity to help alleviate these recognized problems and encourage growth and innovation in the region. To assist in making this vision a reality, the Evansville-Crane I-69 Innovation Corridor Consortium was created. This Consortium is composed of government leaders from southwest Indiana as well as business, healthcare and education representatives and economic development officials.

In particular, I-69 will be of great importance to NSWC Crane. The portion of the corridor near Crane has been referred to as the corridor of “innovation, entrepreneurship and creativity.” New and improved innovations would allow Crane to obtain an increased amount of federal contracts and dollars to effectively produce the technology and weaponry necessary to defend our country. 

Much like the state legislature’s goals, this corridor has brought to light local priorities to startup new businesses and expand those that already exist here. One way to do this will be through expanded wireless access and cellular service along I-69. In the coming weeks, I look forward to meeting with Crane employees and discussing the future of their facility and the impact that it will have on the entire region. 

With such global implications and so many high-skilled job opportunities, this is a special program to have in southwestern Indiana. These job opportunities are not limited to our district however. Hoosiers from across the state travel great distances for the opportunity to work at this facility. I look forward to sharing Team Crane’s mission with my fellow legislators as well as continuing to learn more myself. I believe that a strong NSWC Crane is imperative to our future success and I hope that with continued education and awareness, many others will recognize Crane’s prominence in Indiana as well.