Special Report: Power of Plastics

Special Report: Power of Plastics
The plastics industry has put Evansville on the map as one of the 'plastics capitals of the world." (WFIE)

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - Take a look around you right now. How many items can you spot made of plastic?

Probably more than you can count. Maybe even more than you can see.

Our world runs on plastic, and so does our community.

"I don't know of another industry in the Tri-State area that has such a predominant impact on our economy," said F.C. Tucker Commercial President Ken Newcomb.

Odds are good that you are among the tens of thousands of people in the Tri-State who owe their paychecks to plastics in one way or another whether directly or indirectly. The industry's trickle down effect creates even more jobs at suppliers and stores.

What is growing exponentially now all started decades ago on an airplane.

"A local guy, Tom Morton, met an engineer on an airplane in 1930, and he brought an injection molding machine to Evansville, Indiana from Germany," said Newcomb.

From that first injection molding machine sprouted the dozens of plastics companies we have today, and it is not just Evansville.

"It's Evansville, Owensboro, Henderson, Madisonville, Mount Vernon. I mean it's the whole Tri-State area here, and when we're looking at that economic impact, that economic impact is huge. All of those people are buying homes. They're going to the grocery store. They're buying vehicles," said Newcomb.

Companies flock here to where some call the 'plastics capital of the world' for a number of reasons like location.

"We have I-69 now. We've got Interstate 70. We've got Highway 41.' Our distribution points are becoming almost as good as the distribution points in Indianapolis," said Newcomb.

Another reason is an established, highly-skilled work force.

"Like people like to stay around other like industries because you have a supply chain that will support the industry. For us, we have skill sets that support that industry. Our universities have the type of programs set aside especially Ivy Tech and others to address the needs of the plastics industry. That attracts other like types of companies into the marketplace," said Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana President and CEO Greg Wathen.

Round it out with a remarkable global reputation.

"People know the market because you have a certain level of competency and you have so many companies that are here. Naturally if you're interested in plastics this will be a community this will be a region that will have something to say about it," said Wathen.

The industry is so large and established now that it has become an employee market.

"You're trying to convince people to work for your company rather than just sort of sitting there and waiting traditionally of somebody knocking on their door saying I'd like to work for you," said Wathen.

Employees these days have the luxury to consider what the community has to offer, so the community is changing the conversation to address those desires.

"How do we continue to attract, how do we make this a better place for people to want to live for people to want to live work and play in our region," said Wathen.

Major players have one goal in mind: to keep people and plastics companies here for good.

"I think we're very blessed to have the plastics industry here," said Newcomb.

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