WASHINGTON — An infrastructure improvement grant from the U.S. Commerce Department is helping an Indiana plastics plant expand its product line and add jobs.
The $1.6 million grant from the federal Economic Development Administration to the city of Madison, Ind., to upgrade five miles of light rail infrastructure will allow continued expansion of custom work at rotomolder Meese Orbitron Dunne Co. (MOD).
That investment will allow MOD to ship bigger loads both in and out.
“I think that people often don’t look at the importance of infrastructure for keeping jobs and creating jobs. This upgrade will allow us to bring in pellets by rail as opposed to bringing multiple bulk trucks with already-ground powder.” Less handling and in–house grind “allows us to be more competitive, and that all comes back to good infrastructure,” said President Bob Dunne.
MOD has already invested about $6 million in equipment and machinery at the facility, and maintains its own spur off the community-owned Madison Rail Road line for pellet delivery. The Madison plant is one of four U.S. manufacturing sites for Ashtabula, Ohio-based MOD.
“In the past year we have purchased a small custom rotomolder and moved that into [the Madison] facility to increase volume there and add jobs,” Dunne said. “Every month, we’re trying to revise our product line and trying to increase our propriety work, our custom product line.”
Expansion is particularly focused on laundry carts, recycling containers and material handling containers, he said, and is expected to add 15 jobs to the 110-member workforce there.
“The Obama administration is committed to improving our nation’s infrastructure, which is crucial for both creating jobs and remaining competitive in today’s global economy,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker in a press release announcing the grant.
The current 70-pound track in the 26-mile short-line railway system in Madison currently carries mostly polyethylene, steel coils and scrap hauls and is insufficient for heavier rail cars. Upgrading to 115-pound track is also expected help the small Southeastern Indiana town with future economic development, said Commerce and Madison Railroad officials.
Once the bid process is complete and a contract is awarded, the community-owned Madison Railroad expects the upgrade to take two to three months to complete.