Interstate Lane — Oct. 2012

By Karen Baird

Interstate Lane — Business news from Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia

WEST VIRGINIA: Bureau of Public Debt to Move 450 Jobs to Parkersburg

The U.S. Bureau of Public Debt has announced that it will relocate 450 jobs from the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area to Parkersburg, W. Va., as part of a proposed consolidation of the Bureau of Public Debt and the Financial Management Service.

The jobs will primarily be accounting and information technology positions, with some management functions and related support departments. Pending congressional approval, the relocations are expected to begin in late 2013 and will be implemented in two phases over the course of two to three years.

The U.S. Bureau of Public Debt has had a presence in Parkersburg since 1954, when the city was chosen as a relocation site in the event of a national emergency. According to the Parkersburg News and Sentinel, the bureau now has some 1,900 employees in Parkersburg and serves as the operations center for customer service, accounting and trust funds.

INDIANA: Construction Begins on $14M Battery Innovation Center

Indiana’s new Battery Innovation Center will focus on developing battery technologies such as those used in electric vehicles.

Construction has officially begun on a new $14 million battery innovation center in Crane, Ind., that will serve as the physical hub for a network of industry and research partners focused on the development and commercialization of battery technologies.

Energy Systems Network, Indiana’s clean technology initiative, has worked with a range of industry partners and academic institutions as well as the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane (NSWC Crane) – the military’s largest research center dedicated to next-generation energy innovation – to establish a center that will meet the research and development, rapid prototyping and contract manufacturing needs of industry, academic and military customers.

“The push to make electric vehicles a realistic option for more drivers, the implementation of a smarter electric grid, the demand for more powerful electronics throughout our homes, offices and factories – all of these trends and more have kindled a growing demand for high-tech batteries,” said ESN President and CEO Paul Mitchell. “We believe the BIC can position Indiana as a ‘Silicon Valley’ for battery innovation, testing and production – with the epicenter right here in Greene County.”

Once completed, the 32,000-s.f. facility will include a state-of-the-art dry/clean room for lithium ion battery prototype manufacturing; a variety of temperature, humidity and altitude chambers for cell testing; and computer architecture and systems required to support initial cell designs, modeling and simulation, among other advanced equipment.

Business Briefs

INDIANA

— Solar panel manufacturer Solarzentrum North America is investing $7 million to expand its operations in Osgood, Ind., creating some 140 new jobs by the end of 2016. The company is relocating the manufacturing operations of its Combined Heat and Power PV-Therm from New Mexico to Osgood, which is about 50 miles west of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Blue & Co. LLC, a Carmel, Ind.-based independent accounting and advisory firm that employs more than 300 people across Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, has merged with Suttner Accounting Services LLC, a Bloomington, Ind., certified public accounting and consulting firm. The combined company will operate under the Blue name and will add a Bloomington office to the Blue network.

Sugar Creek Packing Co. is locating a new food manufacturing operation in Cambridge City, Ind., that will create some 400 new jobs by 2016. The Ohio-based company, which operates five facilities in Ohio and Kansas, is investing $28.5 million to expand and refurbish a 77,000-s.f. facility in the Cambridge City’s Gateway Industrial Park that previously housed Really Cool Foods. The facility is expected to be operational by late 2013. Although the product portfolio for the plant has not yet been determined, the company expects to focus on the “ready to eat” sales category.

OHIO

Cincinnati-based American Financial Group Inc. has sold its Medicare supplement and critical illness businesses to Cigna Corp. for approximately $305 million in cash. AFG’s remaining supplemental insurance operations consist solely of its run-off long-term care business, which has a book value of approximately $170 million and which will continue to be based in Austin, Texas. AFG’s Austin-based life and annuity operations will transition to the company’s home office in Cincinnati before the end of the year. The acquisition makes Connecticut-based Cigna one of the nation’s largest supplemental health insurance companies.

TENNESSEE

U.S. Solutions Group Inc. is opening a call center in Bristol, Tenn., that will create nearly 550 jobs. The company, which is owned by Teleperformance, provides services such as toll-free customer care, billing support, web inquiry and technical support, and professional contact management services.

— Information technology company Hönigsberg & Düvel Corp. is adding 116 new jobs to support the expansion of its operations in Chattanooga. Hönigsberg & Düvel specializes in consulting, project management and outsourcing. The company has specific expertise in automotive, banking, manufacturing, healthcare, telecommunications, utilities and government issues.

— Nashville-based healthcare services company HCA is moving the headquarters operations of two of its business units to a new office complex in midtown Nashville, a project that represents a private investment of more than $200 million and ranks as one of the largest commercial office developments in Nashville history. Parallon Business Solutions will relocate 750 jobs to Nashville from nearby Williamson County, with plans to add approximately 800 to its workforce by 2017. Sarah Cannon Research Institute will consolidate 200 Nashville-area employees into one office with plans to double in size by 2017.

WEST VIRGINIA

Natural gas company Williams Partners L.P. is investing $1.34 billion between now and 2014 in West Virginia’s northern panhandle region on a project that will create 100 new long-term jobs. In January 2012, Williams Partners joined with Caiman Energy II as part of a joint venture to develop midstream infrastructure facilities. The processing plants and construction of new fractionation facilities will include an investment of more than $800 million to develop infrastructure for processing natural gas, natural gas liquid and crude oil.

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