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CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ind. — Since the start of 2021, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation has secured 60 commitments from large businesses to settle down or expand their footprint in central Indiana. 

All told, this could lead to the creation of 5,000 new jobs. But with unemployment rates at 3.9% and a shrinking available labor force, the question is: who will work these jobs?

“We put the labor market through a truly unprecedented set of circumstances over the course of the pandemic, and we’re still having all those things that we did,” said Andrew Butters, assistant professor in the Business, Economics & Public Policy Dept. at the IU Kelley School of Business. “Whether it be from the stimulus package, whether it was the remote, whether it was the shutting the economy down and then restarting the economy.”

Despite all the strain put on the economy, big businesses still see something here. 

“We selected Indianapolis after a nationwide search for distribution side of the business because it really fits, fits our model of being able to hit a large population in the US,” said Zak Urrutia, senior director of operations for its logistics. “It’s also just a great market to be in. So we looked at a couple other areas and Indianapolis market in terms of labor availability, building availability, kind of the upward, I think momentum that’s there economically – was all very appealing.”

its logistics will soon open their 350,000-square-foot distribution center in Whitestown, adding 199 jobs by 2025. They say they’re not worried about a shortage of labor. 

“Though we are in a national labor, kinda crisis, really for lack of a better word, we think Hoosiers will want to work for us. The environment and growth opportunities we have are special to be a part of,” Urrutia said. “We’ve got some pretty aggressive growth plans, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see us in a campus environment very soon.”

The opportunities which attracted its logistic also attracted Tempur+Sealy just a few miles to the west in Montgomery County, near Crawfordsville

The new proposed site for the 700,000-square-foot foam-pouring facility along East C.R. 200 South will add some 350 jobs to the area. With construction slated to begin as early as next year, leaders like Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton are excited. 

“Crawfordsville is a very special and unique place, and I think that resonated with this company,” Barton said. “What they saw is that everybody comes together. Everybody works together, cohesively as a team, and we address challenges head on, and we make things happen.”

The county announced on their website Monday: “The new state-of-the-art plant is expected to be the largest Tempur+Sealy manufacturing facility in the world. The first phase is planned for approximately 700,000 square feet, with the ability to double its capacity over time and to expand to a final size of approximately 1 million square feet in the future, which would make it Tempur Sealy’s largest manufacturing facility in the world. Production is expected to begin in 2023, and Tempur Sealy plans to hire approximately 300 local employees to staff the facility. Construction will be funded from operating cash flow.”

Tempur+Sealy CEO and Chairman Scott Thompson said in the release, “This facility underpins our commitment to expanding our global manufacturing footprint to fulfill the projected long-term demand trajectory for our industry leading products and support our growth initiatives. The facility will have the capabilities to manufacture a wide variety of bedding products and components.”

Thompson continued in the release, “After a thorough site search and evaluation process, we identified Crawfordsville, Indiana as the ideal location. We selected this location based on the robust business climate fostered by the state and local government, the quality of life the city of Crawfordsville provides its citizens and the property’s access to major transportation routes.”

The city and county came together to address the problems behind the work force challenges in the area, such as creating new child care and senior care options for the community and bringing workers into the workforce which currently are not. 

“Look, every community is facing work force challenges, but this community has been very unique in how we’ve approached that, and we’ve all come together to create locally driven solutions to address work force challenges, and this company liked what they heard,” Barton said. “It takes a cohesive team and a community to make things like this happen. But ultimately, Montgomery County had the lead on this project, not the city of Crawfordsville. So the county officials, the county commissioners and the county redevelopment commission put a tremendous amount of work into this and is responsible for putting together the incentive package that was successful.”

Success is exactly what Butters believes will be waiting employees and companies who choose to expand in the Hoosier State. He says working our way out of the pandemic will be fruitful.

“It’s unequivocally a great sign for the state of Indiana, for Hoosiers, for the Indiana economy. These are investments that are going to play themselves out through communities throughout the state, and these are gonna be great pieces, great fixtures of the economy that I think are gonna play out really, really nicely for Indiana over the medium to long term,” Butters said. “Indiana has always demonstrated itself as being a fairly robust labor market as well as a hub for manufacturing. So Indiana is a very natural place for companies of that sort to put roots, to put roots down.”

its logistics is hiring now for their Whitestown distribution center. 

Tempur+Sealy will post their job board as they near the completion of their plant.