Fertilizer producer to build $64M center in Hammond

November 1, 2011 (HAMMOND, Ind.)

Potash says is will build a new storage facility at an abandoned industrial site in Hammond. The facility and its construction will create new jobs for the area.

Hammond's mayor says the process of trying to get Potash's business was intense, and that at one point, it looked like the city would not get it.

But a potash Official says Hammond was chosen because of its location, access to railroads and skilled labor force.

For months, construction crews have been clearing land and laying new tracks at Gibson Yard in anticipation of it being the future site of Potash's rail transfer center. But, Tuesday it was made official, with Hammond's mayor and Potash's VP of transportation signing a construction agreement.

The agreement caps an 18-month process of Hammond officials lobbying hard for Potash's business. They knew other Midwestern towns also wanted it. One was in Wisconsin, which is a right to work state.

"We were competing against somebody with much cheaper labor costs, so we felt we had to step up even more because of that," said Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott.

"There were several cities we looked at," said Potash's Robert Felgenhauer. "It boiled down to four, and out of those four, we felt that Hammond was the best choice."

Potash's new center will bring much needed jobs and revenue to the city. Two-hundred-eighty-five construction workers will be hired to build the 300-yard long building.

When it is done, 25 permanent jobs will be at the site, and it will generate $16 million in revenue over the next 20 years.

"I'm from the region and something like this, the way the economy is now, it will put a lot of guys to work," said project foreman Eric Vorice.

Residents of neighboring towns are encouraged that a new corporation is coming to the area and hope that what is good for Hammond will be good for the region.

"I live in East Chicago, which is right next door," said resident Wiley Truttling. "We can only hope that some of that will spill over in to East Chicago."

Hammond is in talks with four other companies thinking of setting up shop in the city. If those deals work out, that could generate an additional $130 million in revenue and at least 300 jobs.

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