Indy Gets Grant For Staffer To Help Carrier Workers, Tackle Industry Decline

Sep 23, 2016

Industrial smokestacks are seen in southwest Indianapolis.
Credit Dan O'Connor / https://www.flickr.com/photos/doconnr/4152865395

A federal grant will let Indianapolis hire an economic recovery counselor to help put out-of-use industrial sites – and laid-off employees – back to work.

The city qualified for the $355,000 grant comes from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Agency after thousands of recent manufacturing layoffs – especially those at Navistar and, earlier this year, Carrier.

"We can't keep suffering these job losses and not try to mitigate it in the future,” says Indianapolis economic development administrator Brent Pierce.

He says the money will cover the recovery counselor's compensation and project costs. Their goal will be to "try to attract and/or grow manufacturing capacity in the city to employ, you know, folks like the soon-to-be-affected Carrier workers," he says.

Carrier’s 1,400 layoffs are expected to start next August, but the city hopes to hire the new counselor in the next couple of months.

Pierce says the person will work with groups like the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce to draw new manufacturing business to shuttered factories, which he says can do a lot of damage when they close up.

"It's not just a paycheck, I guess, that goes away," Pierce says. "A city suffers because entire neighborhoods and regions of the city are affected when a job that pays well and employs thousands of people goes away suddenly."

The counselor will also be the city's liaison with the Indy East Promise Zone, a federally-funded revitalization effort.

Pierce says the city may look to fund the counselor on its own after the grant runs out in three years.

For now, their $71,000 local match for the position will come from $1.2 million in tax incentives the state clawed back from Carrier after the appliance-maker announced it was moving to Mexico.

All that money has been earmarked to help the factory's workers transition, but this is the first time it's been used.