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ODON, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division has inked a 15-year lease agreement for space at the WestGate Academy in Odon. Crane says the space will be used for workforce development and “front door” capabilities, including its engagement, small business and technology training offices.

NSWC Crane Deputy Technical Director Kyle Werner tells Inside INdiana Business the goal is to create direct access to the naval installation.

“As we’ve seen a lot of growth over the past decade, there’s been an increased demand for the facility space we have on the installation to be very research and development oriented for the science and technology efforts we perform with our technical mission,” said Werner. “The idea really to bring some of the business capabilities out to WestGate for training and workforce development and also to create kind of a front door so that people have access to Crane to understand who we are.”

The WestGate Academy is a 64,000-square-foot facility in the WestGate@Crane Technology Park that serves as a regional hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. The lease, which takes effect in June, will provide 14,000 square feet of space for NSWC Crane.

John Mensch, president of WestGate@Crane Authority, calls NSWC Crane a terrific partner for WestGate.

“From additive manufacturing to model-based system engineering to cybersecurity, Crane has the mission and capacity to be part of driving the Indiana economy forward,” Mensch said in written remarks. “WestGate organizations like ours, Techbridge and the Indiana Innovation Institute work in complementary fashion to grow the economic impact of the Navy’s presence in Indiana.”

Werner says the need for more workforce development services is reflected in Crane’s growth over the last decade. He says today, the installation has 3,750 civilian employees, 16 military members and about 2,500 contract partners.

“As we’ve seen that growth, we’ve had great hiring opportunities associated with our scientists, engineers and highly-skilled technicians, which make up about two-thirds of our workforce,” he said. “So, as we’ve continued to grow, we’ve recognized the opportunity to upskill, train and develop the workforce in a significant manner, and the WestGate Academy was really constructed to do that classroom training, workforce development, and provide education. So, it is almost a hand-in-glove fit.”

Looking long-term, Werner says Crane aims to have all of its training, education and workforce development efforts established at WestGate Academy.

ODON, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – A new foundation has been created to lead the physical development of the WestGate@Crane Technology Park in Odon. The Uplands Science and Technology Foundation aims to grow the park’s capabilities in areas such as microelectronics, artificial intelligence, and hypersonics.

The nonprofit research foundation was established last year following the completion of a WestGate master plan. Joe Carley, who currently serves as Indiana University’s director for economic development and director for strategic partnerships at the IU Center for Rural Engagement, will serve as the USTF’s interim chief executive officer.

“I’m honored to serve the Uplands region in this role and to build on the work of the many partners who have helped make WestGate Technology Park a unique asset for our state,” said Carley. “Throughout the process of creating USTF, we’ve been fortunate to work with some of the best minds in the country on building innovation communities, and I believe that we have a roadmap for WestGate that has the potential to be transformative for the region and the state.”

Bloomington-based Regional Opportunity Initiatives Inc. says the USTF will provide leadership for the park’s physical development, marketing and attraction functions, and innovation and engagement activities.

ROI Chief Executive Officer Tina Peterson will serve as the chair of the foundation’s board of directors. Greg Deason, senior vice president of alliances and placemaking at Purdue Research Foundation, and John Mensch, president of the WestGate Authority, will serve on the USTF board along with other economic development, university, and defense leaders.

“Never has the potential of WestGate been more relevant and significant than at this moment,” Peterson said. “With defense sector growth in the Uplands 68 times greater than that seen across the nation, the Indiana Uplands has an important role to play in ensuring we have both the ecosystem and the assets necessary for technological innovation to thrive for the benefit of our state and our nation. WestGate is positioned to become one of our country’s most influential research destinations, and the USTF will be instrumental in catalyzing innovative activities at WestGate.”

WestGate is located outside of Naval Support Activity Crane, the third largest Naval installation in the world. More than 50 organizations are located within the park.

ODON, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The Indiana Rail Road Co.(INRC) has completed what it is calling a “dynamic upgrade” to its transload facility in Odon. The Indianapolis-based railroad says the enhancements will support the safe handling and storage of weather-sensitive products.

Among the upgrades are the installation of a new 10″ concrete floor, the addition of a food-grade railcar dock and two truck docks. The INRC says the changes will allow the 9,6000-square-foot facility to better store products such as particleboard, OSB, plywood and southern yellow pine lumber.

“The completion of the Odon Transload Facility allows us to offer a more comprehensive transloading solution to our customers,” Dewayne Swindall, chief executive officer of The Indiana Rail Road, said in written remarks. “We pride ourselves on providing a superior customer experience, and this upgrade is was critical to support that model.”

The railroad is also nearing completion of the first phase of upgrades to its intermodal terminal in Indianapolis. The project, being conducted over three phases, will allow the company to more effectively move shipping containers.

ODON, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The Crane Regional Defense Group says the inaugural Connect to Crane event provided Hoosier small business owners the chance to connect to the defense industry. The event was created to spur collaboration among small businesses and government and industry leaders who support Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division.

The Crane Regional Defense Group is a subcommittee of the White River Military Coordination Alliance, which was established to boost economic development at Naval Support Activity Crane. The organization says the event, held at the WestGate Academy in Odon, allowed small businesses developing cutting-edge innovations to network with defense strategists, contracting officials, policymakers, and local defense and business leaders.

“We often hear requests from small businesses on how they can gain access and have face time with Crane engineers and large industry partners, especially given the challenges the pandemic has presented,” said Matt Burkett, deputy director of small business programs at NSWC Crane. “This event provided an efficient avenue to make new connections and develop business relationships that, hopefully, turn into mutually beneficial partnerships.”

The organization says it plans to host additional Connect at Crane events as part of its focus on “leveraging Crane’s potential to bring economic growth to southern Indiana.”

ODON, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Odon-based Crane Credit Union says it has completed the acquisition of Our Community Bank, headquartered in the Owen County town of Spencer. Crane says the purchase was announced just two weeks ago and the deal was completed Tuesday, having received board and regulatory approval.

OCB has two locations, one in Spencer and the other in Cloverdale. Both branches will operate as branches of Crane.

“We look forward to assisting the Our Community Bank team in Spencer and Cloverdale in building on their existing customer relationships,” said Crane CU President and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Sparks. “By teaming with OCB, we will expand our services to Owen and Putnam Counties, which fit within our existing market areas stretching from the Greater Indianapolis area to Evansville.”

With the acquisition complete, Crane now has 20 branch locations in central and southern Indiana.

ODON, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A Daviess County company has been chosen as a prime contractor for a U.S. Navy contract vehicle valued at $20 billion over five years. geoConvergence, a geospatial intelligence firm in Odon, says being selected will open a new channel for business with the Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps.

The deal is part of the Navy’s SeaPort-NxG contract vehicle and will include support services in 23 functional areas, including software development, software engineering and Geographic Information System services. 

In addition to geoConvergence as the prime contractor, nine Indiana companies will serve as subcontractors. They include The Mako Group, Leaf Software Solutions and 3DGS, all of which are based in Carmel, as well as Artisan Electronics in Odon, GRAVICOM, CSCI Consulting and Ryan Consulting Group in Indianapolis, Frontier Geospatial in Evansville and True North Joint Venture in Bloomington. 

“Yet another contract win for geoConvergence and this team is proof that smaller, non-traditional Indiana companies have the expertise and ability to perform on major defense contracts,” said Mike Dodd, advisory board chairman of Dioltas, who provided strategic guidance on this pursuit. “We are working day and night to change the Midwest defense landscape and this contract will bring more DoD dollars to the companies involved and the State of Indiana.”

Two non-Indiana companies, MetroStar and General Dynamics Information Technology, both headquartered in Virginia, are also serving as subcontractors to geoConvergence.

ODON, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Naval Support Activity Crane is projecting job growth in the southern Indiana. During a “State of the Installation” address at the White River Military Coordination Alliance’s fourth-quarter meeting, NSA Crane said it plans to hire between 300-500 personnel over the next several years.

Commander James Smith, commanding officer of NSA Crane, gave the address and said the installation is looking to fill jobs in four primary areas: business, technical, emergency management and public works, and advanced manufacturing.

“Over the next three years, Crane plans to continue to hire above our attrition, supporting growth across the installation and tenet missions,” Smith said. “We also foresee new and expanded mission areas, further strengthening our strategic value within the state, region, and Department of Defense.”

Smith cited the U.S. Department of Defense’s recently-announced Joint Hypersonics Transition Office Systems Engineering Field Activity planned for the installation. He said the office will bring $200 million in infrastructure and program development to the installation, which will be used for a new Underwater Launch Test Complex, as well as additional labs and evaluation facilities.

NSA Crane says it has also identified new areas for collaboration through intergovernmental support agreements, including bulk material purchasing, service agreements and mutual aid agreements for disaster recovery and emergency services.

Through the continued use of collaborative planning, partnerships, and compatible development and encroachment protection programs, economic growth can continue to take root in the larger regional and state ecosystem for defense development, while continuing to protect those critical mission areas for the installation and protecting our strategic value,” said Smith.

NSA Crane is home to Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division and Crane Army Ammunition Activity.

ODON, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – The U.S. Department of Defense has awarded a more than $66 million contract to Odon-based Artisan Electronics Inc. and two other companies. The five-year contract calls for production of automatic test systems and support equipment for weapons systems used by the U.S. Marine Corps.

As part of the contract, Artisan, along with partner companies Carmel-based 3DGS and Technology Service Corp. with offices in Bloomington, will build test system hardware and software, update and maintain test systems and translate user manuals and data into Arabic as part of Foreign Military Sales to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“TSC and Artisan Electronics have a long history of teaming together in support of the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Crane. The knowledge and experience gained at Crane has allowed us to reach outside the region and bring this work back home to Indiana,” stated TSC Indiana Operations Manager Mike Kramme. “TSC is excited to continue our collaboration with Artisan under this contract extending our ATS expertise now to the US Marine Corps.”

The company says the contract will further enable its growth plans in Indiana. In June, the company announced plans to expand its operations in south central Indiana, creating up to 20 jobs by the end of 2023.

The contract was also awarded to Hiller Measurements Inc. in Texas and Logisys Technical Services Inc. in Alabama. Work is expected to be completed at each awardees facility and is expected be completed by September 2025.

The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Corona Division in Norco, California, is the contracting activity.

ODON and SPENCER, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – Odon-based Crane Credit Union and Home Financial Bancorp have announced plans to acquire Our Community Bank in Spencer. CCU, which serves the greater Indianapolis area down to Evansville, says the deal will allow it to expand into Owen and Putnam counties.

Crane says the transaction, which is expected to close in 2021, was unanimously approved by the board of directors of both institutions. Afterwards, the credit union says OCB’s locations will operate as CCU offices and its customers will become CCU members.

“We are excited to join Crane Credit Union because of the expanded opportunities it brings to our customers, our employees, and our communities,” said Kurt Rosenberger, president and chief executive officer of Our Community Bank. “CCU has the financial strength, systems infrastructure, and expanded products to help us better serve our current and potential customers. Most importantly, CCU and OCB fit culturally and philosophically.”

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

ODON – The vice president of Odon-based Artisan Electronics says a successful partnership with the U.S. Navy led to the decision to grow its southern Indiana headquarters. The company, which provides engineering, IT and cybersecurity support services for the U.S. Department of Defense, announced Monday it is investing $350,000 to grow its Daviess County operations and add up to 20 jobs by the end of 2023. Greg Sapp says the company wants to double down with its presence at the WestGate Technology Park.

“The Navy’s been a great customer of ours and we’ve decided that that’s going to be a big focus of our growth in the coming years: to provide some more high-paying career opportunities for folks to continue supporting the Navy as they grow their mission,” said Sapp.

Sapp says in addition to the new jobs, as well as equipment and software upgrades, the investment will also support additional training opportunities for existing employees.

“We have a pretty robust tuition reimbursement policy. We’ve started a very robust internship program at the company to get more people involved in the Department of Defense support. And then we’re also just making sure that we’re taking care of our folks every day because they’re the ones that are going to supporting the mission.”

Artisan Electronics was named one of the Best Places to Work in Indiana this year by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. Sapp says culture is key for the company, which draws talent not only from higher education institutions throughout the state, but also throughout southern Indiana. 

Sapp says the announcement of the expansion is welcome news during a time when many employers are going in the opposite direction due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“For us, I think the announcement…I wanted to make sure that people knew that there were positive things happening here in southern Indiana. I wanted people to know there are still great opportunities to have a career and to grow right here in southern Indiana despite the ongoing situation with COVID-19.”

Sapp says the company’s short-term goals is to continue hiring for several positions, including engineers, technicians and IT professionals. Artisan is expected to begin a couple of new contracts for the Navy and U.S. Marine Corps, which will allow for additional jobs as well.

“Then we’ll just be focused on continuing just to take care of our customer and grow organically as we come into our 25th anniversary next year.”