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Hamilton County Business Receives IEDC Grant to Invest in Manufacturing Readiness

Governor Eric Holcomb

Hamilton County’s Indiana Mills & Manufacturing was among 43 Hoosier businesses awarded Manufacturing Readiness grants from the Indiana Economic Development Corp. and Conexus Indiana.

Indiana Mills is a company that specializes in the design, testing and manufacturing of safety equipment such as bus seats, seat belts and air bags for commercial, fire and military vehicles. The company is investing in cybersecurity, robotic welding systems and advanced sensors for environmental monitoring. The grant going there is $105,000.

This is the sixth round of awards presented, and these totaled nearly $4 million, supporting a projected $46.1 million in technology-enabled capital investment across the state.

“Manufacturing is in Indiana’s DNA—we build things,” Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said. “The demand for the Manufacturing Readiness Grants program has proven time and time again to us that these investments help Hoosiers build things better.”

Launched in 2020, the Manufacturing Readiness Grants program was created to stimulate private sector investments to modernize Indiana’s manufacturing industry. Since then, $17.4 million in grant funding has been awarded to 212 companies in 60 counties, prompting proposed projects with combined budgets of $138.9 million and $22 million in estimated new wages.

“Technologies play a critical role in Hoosier manufacturing and are key as we continue to build a tech savvy economy of the future,” said Indiana Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers. “Through the Manufacturing Readiness Grants program, we’ll ensure new equipment secures Indiana’s competitive advantage globally, encouraging further capital investment and positioning us to become an even more dominant player in the advanced manufacturing age.”

In recently published case studies, Conexus Indiana provides an in-depth look into various completed projects, highlighting business impact and outcomes. These, along with data analysis from applications and surveys, find:

  • Rather than displacing workers, investments in technology are freeing workers from tedious tasks to perform higher-value, higher-paying functions.
  • Awards support modernization at primarily small and midsized firms (average of 165 employees) with long histories of participation in Indiana’s manufacturing economy (average of 37 years in operation).
  • The most adopted technologies include robotics, cobots, 3D printing and next-generation machines with sensor-enable features such as data analysis, machine learning and artificial intelligence.
  • 68% of companies report Manufacturing Readiness Grants have enabled or expanded the scope of technology projects, and an additional 26% say the grant accelerated project timelines.

“The Manufacturing Readiness Grants program is clearly a powerful tool in our work to ensure that Indiana companies, at all levels of the globally competitive supply chain, adopt the new technologies important for the future of Indiana’s manufacturing economy,” said Mitch Landess, vice president of innovation and digital transformation at Conexus Indiana. “Conexus Indiana’s vision is to affirm Indiana as the center of innovation and digital transformation, and it’s clear we are squarely on the path of achieving that distinction.”

Recipients include:

Antique Candle Works Inc. (Tippecanoe County; $200,000 grant award) is a candle manufacturer that produces soy wax candles and ships to customers across North America. The company is investing in a digital plant initiative that will leverage a combination of Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, centralized data gathering, cloud-based analytics, automation, and machine learning to self-optimize and dynamically adjust its manufacturing process for increased agility and efficiency.

Batesville Tool & Die Inc. (Ripley County; $71,912 grant award) is a global supplier of precision metal stamping components for the automotive and appliance industries, among others. The company is investing in smart robotics for an automated bin-picking and assembly process.

Dewig Bros. Packing Co. Inc. (Gibson County; $50,000 grant award) is a manufacturer of proprietary branded meat products such as cured and smoked bacon, hams and pork loins and sausages such as bratwurst, German bologna and snack sticks. The company is investing in an automated link cutter for its diverse sausage line, which will help the company increase efficiency.

Diamond K Sweets & More LLC (Owen County; $137,500 grant award) is a confectionary manufacturer of gourmet chocolate and candy products. The company is investing in automated equipment to produce confectionary products on a commercial scale.  

Dorel Juvenile Group Inc. (Bartholomew County; $68,600 grant award) is a manufacturer of child safety products, primarily child restraint systems. The company is investing in various robotics, including cobots, to automate the packaging and handling of its finished goods.

Economy Signs (Lake County; $21,750 grant award) is a full-service commercial sign shop that fabricates and installs signage for individuals, businesses and churches. The company is investing in equipment to automate the production of channel letters, which is currently performed by hand.

EHOB Inc. (Marion County; $110,000 grant award) is a manufacturer of pressure injury prevention products for hospitals. The company is automating its wheelchair cushion manufacturing process with custom-built machinery.

Green Sign Company Inc. (Decatur County; $50,000 grant award) is a custom signage manufacturer specializing in permitting, design, engineering, digital signs, manufacturing, graphics and branding and installation. The company is investing in two ultraviolet, light-emitting diode (UV-LED) flatbed digital printers to automate the cutting process.

Griner Engineering Inc. (Monroe County; $32,250 grant award) is a machine shop supplying precision machined components and services to various industries. The company is investing in robotics and sensors to automate the loading and unloading of materials and allow its machines to run unattended.

Hoosier Tank and Manufacturing LLC (St. Joseph County; $40,000 grant award) is a made-to-order manufacturer of steel air reservoirs for the heavy-duty truck and trailer industries. The company is investing in a Markforged 3D printer to produce carbon fiber reinforced components and a 3D laser scanning system to analyze, measure and quality check its finished goods.

Indiana Furniture Industries Inc. (Dubois County; $109,121 grant award) is a furniture manufacturer of products for various office environments such as private office settings, open office settings and conference rooms. The company is investing in autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) for material handling.

Inotiv Inc. (Posey County; $41,877 grant award) is a contract research organization specializing in nonclinical and analytical drug discovery and development services. The company is investing in digital testing equipment to create a mobile workstation, which will include wireless capabilities, digital radiography, data collection and acquisition, and analytic capabilities.

ITAMCO Co. (Marshall County; $191,240 grant award) is a gearing and precision machining manufacturer for heavy-duty industries including mining, off-highway vehicles, marine, wastewater, construction and aviation. The company is investing in automation and robotics to augment both the pre- and post-heat treatment steps in its manufacturing process.

Laidig Systems Inc. (St. Joseph County; $130,000 grant award) is a manufacturer of bulk material storage and reclaim systems for industries such as food processing, meals, pulp and paper, wood pelleting, biomass, biofuels and ethanol. The company is investing in a new 40,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, including automated cranes and a state-of-the-art, computer-controlled lathe.

Lanthier Winery LLC (Jefferson County; $50,000 grant award) is a wine and spirits manufacturer and distributor of vodka and gin distilled from wine. The company is investing in technology to transition from batch to continuous distillation as part of a larger winery expansion.

LOD LLC (Benton County; $140,000 grant award) is a metal fabricator producing proprietary after-market parts for automotive and off-road vehicles, specializing in heavy-duty and metal bumper assemblies, and also serves as a contract manufacturer. The company is investing in a robotic welding system, fiber laser cutting and 3D scanning to enable modern design for various vehicle models.

Mack Tool & Engineering (St. Joseph County; $85,000 grant award) is a precision machine shop that supplies machined parts and assemblies to the aerospace, medical and other industries. The company is investing in new software to enhance the capabilities of its 16 CNC machines as well as a cobot tending system to augment its manufacturing process.

Major Tool & Machine Inc. (Marion County; $175,000 grant award) is a contract manufacturer specializing in large CNC milling and turning machining, manual and robotic welding, engineering, program management, inspection and assembly services for aerospace and defense, power generation, energy, semiconductor and oil and gas industries. MTM is investing in RFID technology for CNC cutting tools and Machine Learning software to improve efficiencies, reduce costs and provide an avenue to close the existing skills gap for employment opportunities.

Marion Manufacturing (Vigo County; $115,000 grant award) is a manufacturer of precision machined components supporting U.S. defense and infrastructure systems. Marion is a low-volume, high-mix manufacturer investing in its first collaborative robots (cobots) to automate two machine cells.

Marson International LLC (Elkhart County; $162,500 grant award) is a tube fabricator, specializing in large and small diameter tubes for diverse customers in gas and diesel chassis, RV, power generation, mass transit, construction machines and more. The company is investing in robotics and automation for its buffing, bending and cutting processes.

Michiana Global Mold LLC (St. Joseph County; $145,000 grant award) is a precision mold builder for plastics and rubber injection molding. The company is investing in automated equipment to increase efficiencies and allow for more unmanned production.

Miller’s Wood Specialties Inc. (Wayne County; $155,000 grant award) manufactures and recycles wood packaging products, including pallets, crates and custom boxes. The company is investing in an automated system with machine vision, which can identify recycled lumber, cut the lumber to the optimum length and sort the material into bins of similar sizes.

Ottenweller Company Inc. (Allen County; $110,000 grant award) is a is a family-owned producer of quality metal fabricated products serving the construction, forestry, defense, medical and material handling industries. The company is investing in a robotic welding system to secure new business.

Paragon Medical Inc. (Kosciusko County; $105,000 grant award) is a contract medical device manufacturer that produces a full range of components for the global orthopedic and life sciences market, including bone screws, plates, orthopedic implants, endoscopic devices, sterilization trays and more. The company is investing in additive manufacturing, with a focus on metal 3D printing, enabling rapid iteration on patient-specific devices for the medical device market.

Peak Toolworks (Dubois County; $60,763 grant award) is a cutting tool manufacturer for tools and blades that cut through steel, chrome, copper and plastic, including its own patented tool designs. The company is investing in automated equipment for its tool manufacturing processes and robotics for auto-loading thousands of tools.

Pivot Manufacturing Inc. (Delaware County; $58,750 grant award) is a startup manufacturing company that provides design and technical consulting in the medical and automotive sectors. The company is investing in new equipment to offer rapid manufacturing in the form of small-volume prototype orders for its customers.

POLARIS Laboratories LLC (Marion County; $36,700 grant award) is a laboratory services company that provides the manufacturing industry with testing and analysis of oils, coolants, grease and fuels to improve equipment reliability. The company is investing in autonomous robotics to prepare samples for its ICP (Inductively Coupled Plasma) spectroscopy analysis system, which uses proprietary AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning) software.

Precise Tooling Solutions (Bartholomew County; $167,500 grant award) is a specialty tool manufacturer that builds plastic injection molds, services molds and produces ergonomic machine bases and workstations for manufacturing. The company is investing in an automated work cell that pairs cobots with a new CNC graphite mill/pallet changer and an EDM sinker machine for lights-out manufacturing.

Prime Cut 41 (Fountain County; $10,000 grant award) is a family-owned, farm-to-table business that raises livestock on local farms. The company is building a new processing facility for custom orders with retail space and investing in an automated cutting system to bring meat processing capabilities in-house.

Rathburn Tool & Manufacturing (DeKalb County; $170,000 grant award) uses extensive experience, technology and creativity to provide precision machining of steel, aluminum, brass, stainless steel and cast-iron components for heavy truck, rail, recreation, firearms, construction and various industrial sectors. The company is investing in smart robotics and automation, including cobots, machine vision systems, automatic feeder systems, laser scanners and smart torque guns to increase output and production cycle time while still delivering exceptional quality for new and existing customers.

Riverside Mfg LLC (Allen County; $200,000 grant award) is a manufacturer specializing in harsh environment electronics. This includes custom product development, printed circuit board assembly, electronics assembly, industrial labels, metal fabrication, plastic injection molding, over molding, cable and wire harness assembly and instrumentation. The company is investing in an automated, high-capacity production line for next-generation electronics assembly.

Rochester Iron & Metal Inc. (Fulton County; $37,500 grant award) is a recycler and reseller of scrap metal. The company is investing in an automated conveyor belt, magnets and pre-shredder, which will create production efficiencies such as increased throughput and energy savings while also eliminating heavy, unshreddable metals from the company’s existing auto shredder.

Skinny Guy Campers LLC (Elkhart County; $37,875 grant award) is a manufacturing startup that makes self-contained, truckbed campers with heat, light, water and power that fit most North American pick-up trucks. The company is investing in digitized truck beds measurements with advanced precision to enable custom fitting of camper designs to more truck models.

Stalcop Metal Forming LLC (Boone County; $68,039 grant award) produces customer-designed specialty cold formed parts and precision machined components and sub-assemblies. The company is investing in advanced fabrication equipment to perform its manufacturing processes in-house and secure new business.

Steel Warehouse Company LLC (St. Joseph County; $50,000 grant award) is a family-owned premier steel processor and service center with distribution, shipping and processing capabilities for slit coil, sheet, plate and cold-rolled steel products. The company is investing in a heavy payload robotic system to automate production of its dock ramp leveling line products.

Stoutco Inc. (Elkhart County; $75,000 grant award) is a steel fabricator that crafts hot and cold rolled steel as well as stainless, aluminized and aluminum and provides an array of blanking capability including lasers, turret punches and shears. The company is investing in an automated fiber laser cutter to augment its current capabilities and secure new business.

Talon LLC (Elkhart County; $100,000 grant award) is a manufacturer of fabricated metal products and is investing in fiber laser cutters to enhance workflow flexibility, eliminate the need for oxygen and cutting gases, and reduce energy consumption.

Uniseal Inc. (Vanderburgh County; $20,000 grant award) is a manufacturer of sealants and adhesives for the automotive sector. The company is investing in automated equipment to augment its material blending process.

Vista Plastics LLC (Elkhart County; $60,000 grant award) is a plastics extrusion manufacturer and is investing in smart equipment to automate various steps in its extrusion production line for cutting more precise lengths.

Walerko Tool and Engineering (Elkhart County; $55,000 grant award) is a manufacturer of precision piece parts, tools, fixtures and special machines for the heavy off-road, military, marine, aerospace and machine tool industries. The company is investing in new technology and enhanced machinery to further automate its machining processes and to increase output for current and new customers.

Wilco Distributing (St. Joseph County; $50,000 grant award) is a manufacturer of construction products specializing in interior and exterior commercial and residential doors and hardware for the hospitality, multifamily and design and build industries. The company is investing in automated equipment for its manufacturing line for pre-hung door production.

Workhorse Motor Works Inc. (Randolph County; $130,000 grant award) is an original equipment manufacturer of all-electric, last-mile delivery vehicles. Workhorse will apply the award to invest in robotic automation, machine vision and advanced sensor systems to improve its Union City manufacturing and quality control processes as part of the company’s vision to “pioneer the transition to zero emission commercial vehicles.”

To apply for a Manufacturing Readiness Grant, Indiana companies are encouraged to review eligibility requirements and submit applications at https://www.conexusindiana.com/advancing-industry/manufacturing-readiness-grants/.