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DEARBORN COUNTY, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — One Dearborn Inc. is partnering with Purdue Extension to launch a community economic development program in Dearborn County. The organization says the goal of the Dearborn County Business Retention & Expansion Program is to engage local businesses to fuel business and economic development growth.

In the first cycle of the BR&E program, the partners will focus on businesses in the agricultural and food and beverage processing industries in Dearborn County. One Dearborn says businesses will have the opportunity to share their views of the local business community, which will be used for future planning.

“According to the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, more than 70 percent of new projects, investments and jobs in the state result from existing employers,” Mike Perleberg, executive director of One Dearborn Inc. “That’s why we need to better understand the challenges being faced by Dearborn County’s most valuable economic and employment assets – our businesses.”

A Dearborn County BR&E Task Force has been established, which includes representatives from the Dearborn County Chamber of Commerce, Indiana Small Business Development Center, and Ivy Tech Community College, among others.

Earlier this week, the Daviess County Economic Development Corp. outlined a similar program in partnership with Purdue Extension.

WEST HARRISON, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Work has begun on a 150,000-square-foot millwork manufacturing plant in the Dearborn County town of West Harrison. Arkansas-based Dyke Industries Inc. says it is investing nearly $13 million to expand its Midwest distribution with the addition of the new facility in southeast Indiana.

The company says it will create more than 50 jobs by the end of 2024. This will be the company’s first plant in the Hoosier State, which will support an existing facility in Cincinnati.

“Indiana was a strategic decision made based on multiple factors including tax incentives, available land and labor pool coupled with the ability for future expansion into markets we do not currently serve today,” said Pat Doyle, general manager for Dyke Industries Inc.’s regional location.

The company says it will equip the plant with state-of-the-art, high-speed interior and exterior door lines as well as other millwork. It plans to be operational by the second quarter of 2022.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered Dyke Industries up to $400,000 in conditional tax credits based on the company’s job creation plans.

WEST HARRISON, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — An Arkansas-based building materials manufacturer will Tuesday break ground on a new manufacturing facility in Dearborn County. Financial details of Dyke Industries Inc.’s investment in the facility at the West Harrison Business Park have not been disclosed, though the project is expected to create more than 50 jobs.

Dyke Industries produces materials for residential and commercial buildings, including interior and exterior doors, millwork, and windows. The company has facilities in seven other states around the U.S.

An estimated timeline for completion of the new facility was not provided. The groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the West Harrison Business Park.

AURORA, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Ohio-based Kaiser Pickles has announced it will expand its operations in Aurora with plans to add up to 20 new jobs by 2022. The company plans to invest nearly $2.2 million to build a 17,000-square-foot refrigerated warehouse in the Dearborn County city.

Kaiser began with one production line in its 46,000-square-foot facility when it started in Aurora in 2017, and has since expanded to four lines and a second shift to meet demand.

“It’s an exciting time for Kaiser Pickles as we celebrate 100 years of our company and expand our footprint in Aurora,” said Kim Speed, president and chief operating officer of Kaiser Pickles. “The company keeps growing generation after generation, and our Aurora operations will support this success and demand of our products. We appreciate the continued support from the Aurora community, Dearborn County and the state of Indiana.”

The company says construction on the new warehouse will begin this month and is expected to be complete by June 2022. 

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. has offered Kaiser up to $140,000 in conditional tax credits, which the company will not be eligible to claim until Hoosier workers are hired for the new jobs. The Dearborn County Redevelopment Commission will consider additional incentives.

LAWRENCEBURG, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – Governor Eric Holcomb says the state will no longer pursue plans to acquire land near Lawrenceburg which would serve as the state’s fourth port. The governor’s office says the Ports of Indiana found the 725-acre site requires environmental remediation work that would take years to complete.

The property along the Ohio River previously served as a coal-fired power plant for American Electric Power Co. Inc. (NYSE: AEP), the parent Fort Wayne-based Indiana Michigan Power. 

The site is owned by Tanners Creek Development LLC. The Ports of Indiana entered into an agreement in 2017 to acquire the property pending the results of an environmental and economic viability study.

Ultimately, the governor’s office says, the amount of remediation work needed rendered the site economically unviable.

“I have been eager to pursue the opportunity for a fourth port in Indiana well before holding this office and remain so today,” Holcomb said in a news release. “While I’m disappointed this particular site is not feasible for this purpose, I am committed to working with the Ports of Indiana and all the dedicated business and local elected leaders in southeastern Indiana to explore other possible locations in the region.”

Indiana’s ports at Burns Harbor in northwest Indiana, Mount Vernon and Jeffersonville generate an estimated $7.8 billion in annual economic impact. Last year, the three ports handled an estimated 12.3 million tons of cargo in 2019, down from a record 14.8 million tons the previous year.

In a recent interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick, Ports of Indiana Chief Executive Officer Vanta Coda said a proposal has been submitted the stretches of land where the ports are located as maritime districts, which would have a “great impact” on the visibility for the ports within the federal government.

During the interview, which was conducted last week, Coda said the efforts for the fourth port were at a “standstill” and there was “no news” to report.

LAWRENCEBURG, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – Hollywood Casino Lawrenceburg has announced plans to reduce its workforce. In a notice to the state, the casino says 41 employees will be permanently laid off beginning in mid-August.

While the company says the layoff will be permanent, Hollywood expects the facility to remain open.

Hollywood Casino says the layoffs are a result of COVID-19 related business circumstances that were “sudden, dramatic and beyond our control.”

The casino cites closures of its properties and the interruption of nearly all business and travel as primary factors in its decision.

Hollywood Casino’s notice follows other recent lay off notices, including Ameristar Casino in East Chicago, which announced its plans to lay off 127 employees in September.

DEARBORN COUNTY, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – Dearborn County has landed former chief executive officer of Great Parks of Hamilton County Jack Sutton to head up its trails assessment. One Dearborn, the economic development organization for Dearborn County, says the partnership will create new trails and improve existing trails and could ultimately be the first step toward developing a master plan.

The organization says Sutton, a resident of Dearborn County, will conduct a “State of Trails in Dearborn County” report later this year. The report will be shared among the county and local governments, as well as nonprofits and businesses, to unify planning and implementation efforts.

The organization says the efforts will pave the way towards the eventual creation of a “Comprehensive Trails Master Plan for Dearborn County,” a key qualification to obtain grant funding.

“Having a strong network of multi-use trails that connect people and communities will ensure Dearborn County remains a great place to live, work & play. I look forward to working with One Dearborn and our community leaders in planning for the future,” said Sutton.

The contracted work will focus on four main tasks:

Sutton was chief executive officer of Great Parks of Hamilton County before retiring last year. He has worked in public park systems since 1989, holding positions like park planner, planning director and deputy director. Sutton has also served as chairman of the Hamilton County Natural Resources Assistance Council, as well as the board of a sustainability alliance Green Umbrella.

“Not only does Jack Sutton have a zeal for the outdoors and recreation, but his professional and volunteer experience brings a unique and deep understanding of how to inventory trail and park assets across multiple communities,” said Terri Randall, One Dearborn president and chief executive officer.

The organization says trail connectivity is a top priority, and it already has plans in place for extensions and improvements of the Dearborn Trail, Aurora Riverfront Trail, and segments of Bright trails, as well as new trail projects across the county.

LAWRENCEBURG, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Another sportsbook operator is expanding its footprint to Indiana. New Jersey-based PointsBet USA says it is providing online and mobile sports betting in the Hoosier state through a partnership with Penn National Gaming (Nasdaq: PENN), which operates two Indiana casinos.

PointsBet says, as part of the agreement with Penn, it will become a second skin affiliate of the Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg. Indiana is the third state for the company’s sports betting product, in addition to New Jersey and Iowa.

“The PointsBet team is happy to share that we are now officially live in Indiana…where we look forward to providing the sports-loving community in the Hoosier State with the premium sports betting product they deserve just ahead of a thrilling college basketball slate,” Johnny Aitken, chief executive officer of PointsBet USA, said in a news release. “We’re excited to expand our Midwestern footprint and introduce fans of the industry to the advantages an operator can provide when it owns its’ technology end-to-end, such as the fastest product on the market and the most bet types in the world.”

According to PlayIndiana, Hollywood Casino brought in nearly $8 million in January, which was the fifth-highest of all Hoosier casinos even without an online sportsbook in play. 

The online sportsbook is the state’s sixth to launch since sports betting was legalized last spring. PointsBet was originally founded in Australia and its American subsidiary launched in January 2019. 

LAWRENCEBURG, Ind. (WISH) — A southeast Indiana couple is facing multiple battery charges in relation to children they cared for as foster parents or babysitters, according to court documents. 

Timothy Combs, 59, and Diane Combs, 55, of Aurora, each face 22 charges in Dearborn Superior Court 1. 

An investigator with the Dearborn County Sheriff’s Office was tipped off to the abuse after a boy who did not live with the Combs gave a cellphone to a foster child in the Combs’ home. The foster child used the phone to record videos that court documents described as “acts of abuse towards a child.”

“One video showed a female, later identified as Diane Combs smack a young, naked, male juvenile in the face, knocking him to the ground,” court documents said. That boy was later identified as a 6-year-old. 

Videos also showed children being shaken, dropped on their heads and, in one boy’s case, forced to carry a dirty diaper in his mouth. 

A deputy who visited the home found eight children there: 4 were foster children placed with the Combs, three were being babysat and one was a child the Combs had adopted. The children ranged in age from 2 to 16. Some of the children were mentally and physically disabled with limited verbal skills, court documents said. 

The deputy who visited the home immediately contacted the Indiana Department of Child Services, which removed the children from the home.

Child Services indicated 38 children had been sent to live with the Combs since February 2014. 

The charges against the Combs include attempted aggravated battery, domestic battery with a child with a mental or physical disability resulting in injury, domestic battery of a child less than age 14, domestic battery by bodily waste with a child less than age 14, domestic battery in the presence of a child less than age 16, attempted strangulation and strangulation. The charges involve alleged incidents from Dec. 7, 2016, to July 28.

The Combs remained in the Dearborn County Jail on Wednesday. A pretrial hearing is set for Oct. 15 for the Combs. A trail was scheduled for March 11. 

Aurora, a town of 3,700 people, located on the Ohio River about 15 miles east of downtown Cincinnati. 

DEARBORN COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) – The Indiana State Police is investigating the death of a 73-year-old Dearborn County man.

According to ISP, authorities responded to a residence on Highbridge Court in Lawrenceburg at approximately 2:15 p.m. on Monday, May 28 after a deceased individual was discovered. 

The victim was later identified as 73-year-old Thomas Biedenharn. At the time, officers did suspect foul play, an autopsy later confirmed the cause of death as homicide.

No arrests have been made in the case.

The homicide remains under investigation.