City Council concurs with CACFID on contribution to Area 30 project

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The seven-figure lovely parting gift from IBM Corp. when Big Blue left town in March 1987 continues to be the proverbial gift that keeps on giving.

Even now, almost 28 years after the city's biggest employer closed its door here and sent 985 employees into retirement or on to other IBM facilities across the country, its monetary donation to the community continues to pay dividends for projects designed to aid the future of Greencastle and Putnam County.

This time, $50,000 will be used to assist the Area 30 Career Center WIRED program with funding for needed power upgrades at the Area 30 facility, coincidentally housed in the old IBM building on Indianapolis Road, which it shares with Ascena Group (formerly Charming Shoppes/F.B. Distro).

The $50,000 contribution was originally approved by the Citizens Advisory Commission For Industrial Development (CACFID), which jointly approves any expenditure from the Industrial Development Fund (aka IBM donation) in conjunction with the Greencastle City Council.

Tuesday night the Council approved the funding by unanimously passing Resolution 2015-1 during its first meeting of the year at City Hall.

Mayor Sue Murray noted that the funds not only will assist Area 30 in developing its unique WIRED program but will play an important part in "providing trained workers for our local workforce."

Area 30 also secured $116,100 in other grants to make the program possible.

Those grants toward the Area 30 equipment investment include $43,000 from Duke Energy, $35,500 from the Center for Education and Career Innovation (CECI), a $25,500 robot donation from Heartland Automotive, $5,800 in continuing education for teachers through Clodfelter Engineering, $5,300 via a Putnam County Community Foundation grant and $1,000 from the Eitel Community Vision Fund.

Those equipment needs are listed as an electrode oven, 3D printer, flux core MIG welding wire, vertical/horizontal mill, surface grinder, metal lathe, mechatronics trainers, NAO robot (total $35,500), laser cutter, iron worker, welding supplies, 3D scanner, lathe tool kits, carbon arc cutters and torch sets, computers, drill press, motoman robot and cell and two Toshiba robots (valued at $18,000).

Acquisition of that equipment to enhance the program has resulted in a significant increase in the electrical needs at the facility, an added expense for which Area 30 had not budgeted.

The Area 30 website describes WIRED as "an introduction to the research, design and development of manufactured products utilizing advanced technologies and principles. It incorporates training in modern equipment, including CNC (computer numerical controlled) machinery, GMAW (MIG) welding, robotics and CAD (computer-aided design) driven software."

"Students are introduced," it adds, "to principles of design, electrical fundamentals, PLAs (programmable logic array), lean manufacturing and print/diagram reading. Students will be able to perform basic GMAW welding fabrication, interpret drawing dimensions and symbols, use CAD to create 3D models and working drawings, setup and operate CNC machinery and Computer Integrated Manufacturing Technology (CIMT) as well as Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) and robotics."

Council President Adam Cohen made the motion Tuesday night to approve the expenditure from the Industrial Development Fund with Mark Hammer seconding and Jinsie Bingham, Phyllis Rokicki and Tyler Wade adding affirmative votes.

"It's worth noting," Councilman Hammer said,"that more than 25 years later we're still able to leverage the money we got from IBM."

The remaining $1.4 million principal in the IBM account accrued $68,000 in interest last year, he pointed out.

Those proceeds, however, cannot be expended without joint approval of CACFID and the City Council.

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