COVID-19, Subaru plant closure continue to impact local industries

Friday, April 24, 2020

The ongoing COVID-19 issue and its related impact continue to have effects on the Greencastle industrial community.

Nearly half of Greencastle industries remain closed due to ripple effects of the virus, namely the auto parts makers in the community – IAC, Heartland Automotive and Chiyoda USA.

Meanwhile, Crown Equipment, Walmart Distribution, Phoenix Closures, Ascena and Buzzi Unicem have been able to continue operations.

Those business are “still operating but in a unique mode,” Mayor Bill Dory told the City Council recently.

“A lot of them are doing extra cleaning, keeping social distancing and moving people around in their facilities and things like that,” the mayor added.

Greencastle/Putnam County Development Center Executive Director Kristin Clary acknowledged that the local auto parts makers remain closed.

“I’m not sure when they’ll open,” she told the Banner Graphic, “in large part because I don’t think they know when, and they’re awaiting Gov. Holcomb’s actions.”

Heartland and Chiyoda produce auto parts for the Subaru Indiana Automotive plant in Lafayette, which is closed through at least May 8.

Subaru, the largest employer in Tippecanoe County, has idled some 6,300 workers since mid-March when the COVID-19 situation began to shut down manufacturing across the state.

A Subaru spokesman said a number of factors went into the decision. "In response to ongoing challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, including declining market demand and supply chain issues, Subaru of Indiana Automotive is extending its shutdown through May 8," Communications and External Relations Manager Craig Koven said.

Subaru plans to resume production on Monday, May 11. How that will affect Greencastle’s idled auto parts makers is uncertain, Clary said.

The Lafayette facility produces the Ascent, Outback, Legacy and Impreza models and accounts for about half of Subaru's overall USA production.

Meanwhile, Mayor Dory noted that a number of small business in Greencastle remain closed as a result of the pandemic.

“Certainly it’s tough out there,” he said, “and as this continues, it’s probably going to get a little more difficult. But hopefully some of the federal stimulus that comes through will be supportive of our small business community.”

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