Launch Terre Haute host's Crane Contingent

Crane contingent eyes broader business connections with TH

By Howard Greninger | Tribune-Star | Posted: Monday, November 2, 2015 9:58 pm

Crane contingent eyes broader business connections with TH

What we do: Jeff Stark, owner of Stark Industries, talks about some of the products his company makes. He was speaking to a group of visitors from Crane Naval Weapons Activity and members of Launch Terre Haute.Tribune-Star/Jim Avelis

The commander of Crane Naval Support Activity and other officials on Monday toured six Vigo County sites to scout out possible future partnerships.

Crane, located 55 miles southeast of Terre Haute in Martin and Greene counties, is one of Indiana’s largest high-tech employers, with more than 2,000 scientists, engineers and technicians. Launch Terre Haute, which describes itself as a “collaborative workspace for freelancers, independents, and start-ups,” hosted the visit.

For Timothy A. Craddock, Crane commanding officer, it was his second visit to Terre Haute. He also has toured areas in Indianapolis and near Louisville.

“I know a little bit about the area and what is offered in the area. But this visit really brings it all home as to how the industry that you have here directly correlates to the work that we do every day at Crane, whether shipboard work, aviation, or submarine or ground force. There is a lot of commonality that we do at Crane and what is done in Terre Haute,” Craddock said during a stop for lunch at the Terre Haute International Airport-Hulman Field.

“I didn’t realize there was a lot of aerospace industry here. I am a surface warfare officer, so I am more familiar with the ships than aircraft, but we do use gas turbine engines [to power some ships], so it was nice seeing some of the facilities that make the parts to that equipment,” Craddock said.

Crane has 64,000 acres and was originally commissioned in December 1941 as a military ammunition depot, Craddock said. It also stores about 25 percent of the military’s conventional ordnance on base at Crane. The ammunition activity is the second largest tenant by workforce and largest by land use, using about 80 percent of the property at Crane, Craddock said.

Officials toured GE Aviation, Rose-Hulman Ventures, Tri Aerospace LLC, Stark Industries, Indiana State University Flight Academy and the 181st Intelligence Wing Indiana Air National Guard, located at the Terre Haute International Airport-Hulman Field.

Shelley Klingerman of Launch Terre Haute said the tour “could potentially bring business to this area just by knowing what we do here. We jumped on the opportunity to showcase our city. We will continue to network around the state and take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves,” Klingerman said.

Ted B. Markley, senior program analyst for McKean Defense Group at Crane, said the opportunity to network with Terre Haute companies was the biggest asset for the tour.

Terre Haute is important, Markley said, because of an “aerospace cluster” here that includes Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Indiana State University and GE Aviation.

Kyle B. Werner, director of applied science and demand management at Crane, said he is a Rose-Hulman graduate, and so was familiar with Rose-Hulman Ventures program. “But it is really interesting to see that they have diversified their clients, with 40 to 60 students working active internships,” he said, adding there may be a chance for “in-kind opportunities” between Crane and Ventures, he said.

Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett and Steve Witt, president of the Terre Haute Economic Development Corp., each briefly addressed the tour during its lunch stop at the airport.

“We are a Class 2 city, one of 21 in Indiana, but we have a lot of amenities and lot of things here that are pretty unique like having two major hospitals, five colleges and universities and having an airport with the fourth longest runway” in the state, Bennett said.

“We are also in a great physical location as well,” he said. The mayor said Terre Haute also has a diversified economy, with industry, medical and government agencies, including a federal courthouse and federal prisons.

“On the manufacturing side, there is a lot of plastic manufacturing, automobile-related industries, Sony DADC and all the Blu-ray technology is made here, as well as health care and we are a retail destination as well,” the mayor said.

“Our downtown has had about $250 million in private and public investment in the last 10 years, so just lots of great things going on,” he said.

Witt said that in 2009 the city entered and Crane enteted a “partnership intermediary agreement” aimed at enabling Navy-developed technology to aid companies in the city and Vigo County. “We have long considered Crane as part of team for business attraction efforts,” Witt said.

Indiana state Sen. Jon Ford also took part in the tour.

“It showed how much advanced manufacturing, advanced technology that we really have here in the Wabash Valley. I had never seen this first hand. It is amazing the amount of technology and where these products are going in the military,” Ford said. “We need to do these types of events to make people aware of what we have to offer here in Terre Haute ... to help us attract business,” he said.

“GE Aviation on Third Street was a surprise to me with their supplying the new GE Lafayette plant, which bodes well for keeping and even a possible expansion for GE in Terre Haute. I personally was nervous when they announced the plant in Lafayette that they might pull the business from Terre Haute, but it doesn’t appear that way,” Ford said.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com. Follow on Twitter@TribStarHoward.

Posted on November 16, 2015 .