Locomotives built in Muncie

 |  Written by Rick Yencer  |  1

Locomotives built at the old Westinghouse Plant on Cowan Road have put Muncie back on the manufacturing map. Progress Rail, a subsidiary of Caterpillar Inc., opened their doors to community and business leaders to show off their bright red locomotive headed to Mexico. A second locomotive built in  the last 10 months is headed for Gabon. More than 250 people witnessed history of the biggest economic development project locally with $50 million invested into the old transformer plant. As Billy Ainsworth, president and CEO of Progress Rail said, the Muncie plant was the first locomotive assembly plant to open in the United States in many years and the latest milestone to mark the company's approach to compete and win in the global railway market. "This is the type of responsiveness our customers come to expect from Progress Rail," Ainsworth said. The impact of 180 people working at the plant was not lost on Mayor Sharon McShurley who said the development also impacted families, as she spoke along with other state and federal officials. Nearly 100 people in the crowd worked on the locomotive and gave video testimonials about building the massive transportation machine from the ground up. "This is a great place to work," said Betty. Ainsworth talked about what a great day it was to open the plant and show off new locomotives. The company recently announced plans to build extra locomotive assembly plants in Brazil and Mexico. "We are proud to be in Muncie and look forward to being a part of this community's economic future for many years to come," said Ainsworth. "As we continue to grow our business and build additional manufacturing capacity, Progress Rail will be well-equipped to produce and support the largest global population of locomotives." Progress Rail officials estimated three jobs could be created from one locomotive production job and estimated millions would be poured into the community. That is certainly good news for Delaware County that had nearly 12 percent unemployment last summer and still lingers around 9 percent. Ainsworth called McShurley a great friend and leader who helped secure the locomotive manufacturing plant to Muncie. And the open house did not come at a more opportune time with McShurley facing an election to continue leading free Muncie in about 10 days. Well The Muncie-Delaware Chamber of Commerce and the 400 or so supporters at its annual dinner had perfect timing to showcase how Muncie actually makes something again. Terry Murphy, chamber vice president of economic development, said the gala opening of the Progress Rail plant was the biggest development in 40 years, about the time Westinghouse came to Muncie and employed thousands. Congressman Mike and Lt Gov. Becky Skillman also were on hand to recognize the new manufacturer and offer any support to Caterpillar and its subsidiary, Progress Rail, to continue operations. A couple of former Westinghouse workers, David Taylor and Gary Turner, were eating lunch at a neighorhood Marsh on Friday, and thought the development was great. And remember when Muncie made more transmissions, batteries and other auto parts for nearly a century. Even some cars were built here. We the people think this is a great economic boom to the community along with the growth of Ivy Tech Community College down the road. Add Ball State University and its growth, and Muncie is still one of the best places to live.