Evansville Industrial Foundation celebrates milestone in Evansville economy

By Louis La Plante

The Evansville Industrial Foundation will celebrate its 50th anniversary on Mon., March 10 in Downtown Evansville with a bevy of presentations, including a proclamation from Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel.

Monday's event will also include a presentation from Ron Keeping, former president of the foundation, regarding the Evansville Industrial Foundation's history, and Greg Wathen, president and CEO of the Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana, will update attendees on the current status of the local economy.

The foundation, formed in 1958 as a nonprofit organization to help the local chamber of commerce attract businesses, sprang from an economic Dark Age in Evansville.

During the 1950s, major manufacturers like Industrial Harvester (a refrigerator manufacturer) and Chrysler (whose 1957 departure slashed 4,200 jobs in the area) after Evansville boomed during the 1940s as a manufacturer for World War II military equipment.

In the current issue of Evansville Business (February/March), writer Byron Rohrig shows how the industrial foundation started as a group of 100 prominent businessmen and reversed the negative Evansville economic landscape for decades by such methods as developing industrial land.

Evansville Business magazine is on newsstands now.