Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Owensboro has large share of Tri-State economic success in 2010

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - Every year there are positives and negatives effecting the local economy but it's safe to say there were some big swings in 2010.

It's not breaking news that times are tough and there were some obvious downers on the local job front, but there is also some positive news that might leave reasons for optimism in 2011.

As the Evansville Arena blossoms into an architectural wonder downtown, some 670 construction workers are on the payroll.

And when the arena opens late next year, over 500 people should have full time jobs.

In addition, and just under the wire for 2010, the arena got some company when the city picked Woodruff Hospitality to build a new the 220 room Hyatt Place Hotel right next door.

It should be finished in the spring of 2012.

Evansville's Berry Plastics is about to put the wraps on a $150,000 project with 360 new positions created.

It's been a good 15th year for Casino Aztar which was approved for a new license, came out of bankruptcy, and in July started operating 24 hours a day during the week.

The EVSC is moving on up.

New buildings, like the Cedar Hall Community School, has just been completed, and the new North Middle and High School project is on track.

Ivy Tech's Evansville campus had it's largest enrollment on record this fall.

Officials at the Gibson County Toyota plant said due to increased demand, they will soon be hiring workers for 53 new positions.

Across the river, things are also looking up. US Bank has hired 500 new employees and now has 1,600 on the payroll.

First Securities has announced that they are making their corporate headquarters in Owensboro.

Pinkerton Tobacco is keeping 300 jobs in Owensboro.

Century Aluminum in Hawesville plans to hire 100 new employees.

The new potline is expected to be restarted early next year.

Massey Coal says two coal plants are coming to McLean County bringing more than 600 jobs to the area.

Construction of the new Owensboro Medical Health System complex is keeping local eateries cooking.

Business at the Heartland Cafe is up 30-40%.

Our economic diversity has helped the Tri-State weather some economic storms.

"We are not at all dependant on one particular industry," financial expert Tricia Hollander said. "We've got a little bit of the auto industry of course we've got two great universities, we've got Ivy Tech the third university. We've got the hospitals. So that diverse employer base is really a benefit when you go through a real challenging environment."

On the downside, Whirlpool, an Evansville manufacturing icon is gone and so are 1,100 jobs.

Mead Johnson also moved 50 sales and marketing positions to their Illinois headquarters.

For the first time in more than 30 years, Evansville's annual Thunder on the Ohio hydroplane boat races were canceled, because the cost had grown beyond it's budget.

So overall, reviews on 2010 are mixed but movie goers to the new Showplace in Henderson, and next year in Princeton, might give it a big thumbs up.