Make your home page

POSEY COUNTY, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Texas-based CenterPoint Energy Inc. (NYSE: CNP) is seeking approval of its planned acquisition of a 300-megawatt solar array in Posey County. The utility, which acquired Vectren Corp. in 2019, says it is also requesting approval to enter into a power purchase agreement for an additional 100 megawatts of solar energy from another solar project in southwest Indiana.

CenterPoint Energy Indiana South, the Indiana-based electric and natural gas business for the utility, is working on an agreement with Switzerland-based Capital Dynamics, which is co-developing the Posey Solar Project through its affiliate, Arevon Energy Management, in partnership with Nebraska-based Tenaska.

The Posey Solar Project, when complete, will feature more than 730,000 solar panels across 2,500 acres that are expected to generate enough energy to power more than 50,000 homes annually. 

The utility is requesting the approvals from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. CenterPoint says construction will begin after it receives the necessary authorization permits from the IURC, which is expected in late 2021 or early 2022.

“Capital Dynamics is proud to support CenterPoint Energy’s efforts to deliver low-cost, sustainable energy generation to its customers in Posey County,” said Martin Hahn, chief executive officer of Capital Dynamics. “The project is expected to provide substantial economic benefits to local communities and help the state of Indiana take another step towards meeting its clean energy and climate goals.”

The second solar array involved in the power purchase agreement is being developed by Idaho-based Clenera. Like the Posey Solar Project, developers are expecting to begin construction in late 2021 or early 2022 after receiving approvals from the IURC. 

CenterPoint says, when the array is complete in 2023, the 100 megawatts the utility will receive through the PPA will generate enough energy to power more than 18,500 homes per year.

“The construction of this solar array and the additional energy obtained through the power purchase agreement will further CenterPoint Energy’s Smart Energy Future strategy,” said Steve Greenley, senior vice president of generation development for CenterPoint. “Ensuring continued reliability, addressing sustainability needs for the region, and tailored to utility ownership values, these projects will contribute significantly to CenterPoint Energy’s commitment to deliver clean and reasonably priced energy to its customers.”

CenterPoint says the addition of 400 megawatts of solar will support its goal of reducing operational emissions by 70% by 2035.

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Three economic development organizations in southwest Indiana that say they share a vision for growth and prosperity in the region have merged. The Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana, Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville and Southwest Indiana Chamber will join forces effective April 1.

The unified organization says together it will advance the interests of businesses and fuel economic and community growth in the Evansville region.

“All three organizations have a proud tradition of accomplishment,” said Greg Wathen, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana. “By pooling and unifying essential economic development functions into a single structure, we have an opportunity to better serve the region with a bolder vision for the future.”

Wathen will serve as a co-CEO, along with Southwest Indiana Chamber President and CEO Tara Barney, during the transition.

“Having these three organizations recognize that we can be so much more impactful together… aggregated into an organization that can be really well prepared to represent this region, because we’re competing against a big globe out there,” said Barney. “And everything we can do to center ourselves forward with our particular strengths and the secret sauce that makes up our geography.”

In October, the organizations announced their intentions to explore a merger. Since then, the group analyzed the finances, public policies and technology that would be impacted by the strategic integration.

“(It is) a fairly historic vote where we had 120 plus collective members of our boards say ‘yes,’ and I think that speaks volumes to the process that we follow… well as trying to address all of the issues that were brought up during the process,” said Wathen.

The organization says under one umbrella, it will simplify the process for companies that want to settle in southwest Indiana to know where to access resources.

“We are very pleased that after months of document review, discussion and best-practice research–including study of similar regions seeking increased velocity–we have clear direction and authorization from our collective boards to aggregate the work, the assets, the staffs, and the expertise of three very sound organizations into one,” said Lynell Walton, Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville Board Chair.

The name and brand of the new organization will be released in April when the merger becomes effective.

Southwest Indiana Chamber President and CEO Tara Barney explained how the new organization will be stronger in marketing the area.

POSEY COUNTY, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A Switzerland-based private asset management firm is planning another major solar project in southwest Indiana. Capital Dynamics says its Clean Energy Infrastructure business, in partnership with Nebraska-based Tenaska, are developing a 300-megawatt solar farm in Posey County that will create a small number of jobs.

The company says the Posey Solar Project will be located on up to 3,000 acres of land with construction set to begin in 2022. The solar farm will be designed and build in accordance with Posey County’s solar ordinance, which has specific guidelines for various items such as setbacks, road use and decommissioning.

“We are excited about locating this project in Posey County,” said Tiago Sabino Dias, chief executive officer of Capital Dynamics affiliate Arevon Energy Management. “We have signed leases with more than 65 landowners who will be able to diversify their income through solar, and we have had positive conversations with local leaders about the many economic benefits this solar field will bring.”

Capital Dynamics cites a study from the Gnarly Tree Sustainability Institute, which says the project will create direct construction jobs equal to 250 full-time jobs for 16-18 months, as well as five full-time operations and maintenance jobs at the site. 

Additionally, the company has hired local resident Stacy Wagner to serve as community representative for the project. 

“We are excited that Stacy has joined the Posey Solar team. Her knowledge of the community will be invaluable as we advance a project that benefits Posey County and is respectful of neighbors,” said Sabino Dias. “One of Stacy’s first tasks will be to assist in setting up our local office with regular hours, which we feel sends a strong message about our commitment to being a good business neighbor.”

Last month, Sabino Dias spoke with Inside INdiana Business about three other solar projects in Knox, Gibson and Pike counties, totaling $430 million, for our quarterly INPower newsletter. You can read the full article by clicking here.

The Posey Solar Project is expected to begin operation in 2023.

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – The Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana has created a low-interest loan program to help local small businesses to continue to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Grow Local Lending Fund is designed for businesses that may not have been eligible for other federal loan programs and are located within the four-county southwest Indiana footprint, including Gibson, Posey, Vanderburgh and Warrick counties.

The coalition says it has committed up to $460,000 in small business loans.

The program is a partnership with Illinois-based Banterra Bank, Cynthiana-based Community State Bank of Southwestern Indiana and Evansville-based Old National Bancorp (Nasdaq: ONB).

“Small businesses help to drive Southwest Indiana’s regional economy, and this low-interest loan program can mean the difference for some small businesses reopening,” said Community State Bank of Southwestern Indiana President Steve Bennett.

The coalition says loans will range between $5,000 and $7,500 and can be used for working capital, continued operation expenses or to support remote work expenses.

“We’re excited to partner with the Coalition on this important small business loan program,” said Chris Rutledge, market executive at Banterra Bank. “With so many small businesses challenged during the pandemic, we thought this was an excellent way to help.”

Businesses interested in the program can learn more and apply by clicking here.

POSEYVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A southwest Indiana entrepreneur has launched a startup with the help of a Poseyville company. Casey Voelker says the new company, Captivated Content LLC, aims to provide content and video creation services for businesses throughout the region looking to improve brand awareness. Voelker says the decision to launch his own business came from the encouragement of Matthew Nix, president of Nix Companies, where he previously served as marketing coordinator.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Voelker said he joined Nix with the eventual goal of creating something of his own.

“One of the things I really liked is it seemed like that they like to hire people with that entrepreneur spirit and so right away, I kind of had in the back of my mind that if I ever wanted to go out on my own, it’d be nice to have a partner that understands how to build a business,” said Voelker. “The goal is for our company…to become on of the leading marketing content companies in southern Indiana or in our region and to have that close by for Nix is a big deal because as they continue to grow, they’re going to need top-tier marketing and branding and things like that.”

Voelker’s relationship with Nix began in 2016 when he began providing video marketing services for the company while working at various production and marketing agencies before joining the company in 2019. He says Captivated Content will be housed within Nix’ facilities.

“Bringing (Casey) on board full time in 2019 was a huge win for us, but it didn’t take me long to realize that he was a bird we couldn’t keep caged,” Matthew Nix said in a news release. “He is clearly very talented and has so much to offer the region. Helping other entrepreneurs launch and grow their own business has always been a dream of mine. So, when Casey approached me about our interest in helping him start his own business, I was ready to listen. What intrigued me the most is he’s more than just a ‘creative’. He gets the business side of things too. Both how creative needs to convert to actual revenue for the client and how all of that can be monetized in his business model. That combination is rare.”

Nix says the partnership creates the “best of both worlds” for his company by helping Voelker to reach his goals while also having him close by to advise and oversee the company’s own in-house marketing efforts.

Voelker says he sees a market for the services his company plans to deliver.

“My trade is actually video production and video marketing and I’ve been seeing kind of a gap in the marketplace with consistent video marketing. Most people do maybe one or two or three videos a year; maybe they do a commercial; maybe they do a branding or a business video or something. But I want to offer businesses an opportunity to get into a more consistent video marketing (strategy).”

Voelker says he plans to initially target the manufacturing and trades industries. 

“They’re kind of light years behind in a lot of their marketing, especially brand awareness,” he said.

Voelker says Captivated Content is largely self-funded with as-needed assistance from Nix. He says his goal over the next 1-2 years is to bring on multiple videographers with the eventual goal of adding graphic designers and others to jump start the content creation aspect of the business. 

“When I came out of college, especially in southern Indiana, there wasn’t a lot of opportunities for me as a video creative to be employed. So I want to offer that to kids coming out of college or moving to the area and have a business that will hire these creatives. Hopefully, we’ll be able to hire at a top dollar salary; we’ll be able to give them the benefits that they need and then also, I want to have a really culture-oriented company, something that southern Indiana doesn’t really see too often, at least in the creative world.”

MOUNT VERNON, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – Mount Vernon-based Westech Building Products LLC is planning to close its facility in Posey County. In a notice to the state, the company says the move will leave more than 80 employees out of work by late November.

The company did not provide a specific reason for the closure. The process of closing the facility began August 23 and Westech says the closure and layoffs are expected to be permanent. The 81 employees affected by the move are not represented by a union and do not have any bumping rights.

Westech manufactures a variety of building products, including vinyl fencing, decking systems, windows, doors and specialty building elements, according to its website. The company has another facility in Calgary, Alberta.

Inside INdiana Business has reached out to Westech for more information. Details of the closure were provided through a WARN Notice filed with the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. 

GRIFFIN, Ind. (WEHT) – Employees at a southwest Indiana fireworks business are relieved after they got their dinosaur back. 

Dino-Mite is a 30-foot blow-up dinosaur that lives outside Stateline Fireworks in Griffin, a town of about 170 people in Posey County. That’s about 125 miles southwest of Indianapolis.

On Tuesday, owners noticed Dino-Mite was missing. They took to Facebook to post a lost dinosaur ad saying if the thief returned it, no questions would be asked.

On Friday, Dino-Mite showed up unharmed with a note which read in part: “Sorry mom and dad, I wanted to watch the fireworks show on the riverfront. Sorry for not asking permission. Please don’t ground me.” 

Stateline’s owners said it was interesting to see the thief had a sense of humor. Their original post was shared over 3,500 times. 

CROZET, Vir. (WISH) — An Indiana lawmaker is being hailed a hero after a train carrying members of Congress and their families crashed into a garbage truck.

The crash happened late Wednesday morning about 15 miles outside of Charlottesville, Virginia in Crozet. The train was carrying dozens of Republican members of Congress, including several from Indiana, to their legislative retreat in West Virginia. The driver of the truck was killed. Six patients were transported to UVA Medical Center, with one in critical condition. All members of Congress on the train and their families were said to be OK, with the exception of a few minor injuries.

Indiana representatives Susan Brooks and Jim Banks, as well as Senator Todd Young were on board the train.

Congressman Larry Bucshon is a heart surgeon. He was also on board with his wife who is an anesthesiologist. Both stepped up with several others to help after the crash.

“We again came to a very distressing scene with obviously very severely injured people and the atmosphere was as professional as that setting could allow and I do think it made a difference, I think what the people on this stage did hopefully has saved a life,” Rep. Larry Bucshon said.

Rep Bucshon also offered prayers to the those involved in the crash and said he hopes it will refocus lawmakers in Washington.

“This does bring back thoughts of family and friends in a partisan Washington D.C. climate. Sometimes, I think some of us start to lose what really is important in life and this incident today really brings that back in focus for everyone,” Rep. Bucshon said.

As for the retreat, GOP lawmakers say it is going on as planned. It’s happening in West Virginia through Friday. President Trump is scheduled to speak to the group Thursday.

POSEY COUNTY, Ind. (WEHT) — It was as if the life was sucked right out of North Elementary School in Poseyville Tuesday. The hallways were as silent as the playground once played on by seven-year-old Emma Clark.

Clark was riding on the back of an all-terrain vehicle between her mother and another woman Monday, when the ATV flipped over on top of Clark just outside the family’s home on Hidbrader Road in Wadesville, killing her. Neither she, nor the other two women were wearing helmets. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources said the two women didn’t suffer serious injuries.

“Total devastation” is the way North Elementary School’s principal Shannon MacMunn described the mood Tuesday.

Even as a kindergartner who wasn’t at North Elementary for long, Clark made a big impression. MacMunn said grief counselors will stay at the school as long as they’re needed.

Details reveled by the Indiana Department of Natural resources beg the question: could Clark’s death have been avoided?

“If you allow your child to ride an ATV without a helmet, you’re putting their life in danger,” DNR officer Matt Clark said. “The vehicle that they were on is not designed for having three people on it. A young girl like her or any young person should be on a smaller sized vehicle.”

Beyond that, Officer Clark said the ATV was riding where it shouldn’t have been.

“These are off-road vehicles for a reason, because they are intended for off-road use,” Officer Clark said. “Although it may not be illegal, they’re not designed for road travel.”

Never miss another Facebook post from WISH-TV

MOUNT VERNON, Ind. (AP) – Authorities say a southwestern Indiana man died when his small plane crashed into a field near the Ohio River.

The Posey County Coroner’s Office says the crash Friday afternoon killed 64-year-old Duane Daws of Mount Vernon. He was the only person aboard the plane.

Indiana State Police Sgt. Todd Ringle says the crash damage left aircraft nearly unrecognizable.

Ringle says representatives of the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration were traveling to the crash site about 15 miles west of Evansville.