Bowling Manufacturing Center Brings Jobs to Martin County
A handshake and a leap of faith. Sometimes the most important relationships start in the simplest ways. And have the most impactful results.
When Perfect Fit Industries ceased operations in early 2011, it was at the height of the Great Recession. In other parts of the country, similar long-term businesses were forced to close their facilities. Many still remain shuttered. In Martin County, however, new life is beginning at the Bowling Manufacturing Center.
The Bowling Manufacturing Center is a labor of love. It’s the culmination of years of dedicated hard work by individuals and organizations that believe that Martin County is poised to write its next great chapter. Economic development doesn’t happen overnight. The Bowling Manufacturing Center is no exception.
The concept for re-purposing the Perfect Fit property began in reverse. After viewing a local TV news story, Mike Carney of KCARC made a call to Loogootee’s then-Mayor Don Bowling to find out how to use the facility as part of an effort to bring jobs back to Martin County and Loogootee. Working with Tim Kinder, Executive Director of the Martin County Alliance, KCARC agreed to the purchase of the 60-year-old facility.
With no tenants and no prospects, the group began laying out their strategies. The property presented numerous challenges, as single-purpose buildings often do. Things like ceiling height, aging infrastructure and other maintenance issues meant that the group needed to upgrade the facility. They also needed to put in some long hours and log some serious mileage in order to attract the right kinds of business activities that would fit into the facility.
The Bowling Manufacturing Center’s announcement on October 13, 2015 that it was hiring up to 34 employees means that this endeavor is now bearing fruit. With 139,000 square feet of manufacturing space, the Center is the largest facility of its kind in the area. As part of its first contract, KCARC will be producing 167,000 Generation III extreme cold weather undergarments for use by our military. With manufacturing equipment arriving in the next few weeks and the training of new hires beginning in mid-November, KCARC expects production of this important military order to begin December 14. The first shipment is expected to leave the factory January 25, 2016.
With over 300 employees, the mission of KCARC is “to advocate and provide opportunities in a dignified and respectful manner for the total well-being of individuals and families with special needs.” Since its inception in 1972, KCARC has focused its assets and strength in the pursuit of those core principles. KCARC operates and manages multiple manufacturing and distribution outlets in southern Indiana that employ members of our communities that are unable to find these types of good jobs.
Continuing outreach and economic development efforts is vital to bring even more good jobs and investment for our future. Economic development is a process that unfortunately may take years to reap the benefits after the strategies are formulated and implemented such in the case of the Bowling Manufacturing Center project. Numerous obstacles were overcome to get to the point of KCARC’s hiring. New, good jobs in Martin County means that everyone benefits. Such as employment opportunities for residents, strengthening the tax base for the local units of government to provide public services to its residents, and improving the quality of life. That’s the power and impact of economic development.
For more information on KCARC, please visit www.knoxcountyarc.com
To learn more about the Martin County Alliance for Economic Growth, visit www.martinalliance.org, call Tim Kinder, Executive Director, at 812.295.4800 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org