Specialized Industries: Machinery & Engine Manufacturing, Transportation & Automotive Equipment Manufacturing, Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing, Plastics & Rubber Product Manufacturing, Paper Product Manufacturing

Sector Highlights

  • 35% of Columbus, IN employment is within manufacturing, vs. 9% U.S. and 17% Indiana average (BLS 2011 )
  • Columbus/Bartholomew County, Indiana, ranks in the TOP 3% of all U.S. counties for manufacturing employment concentration (BLS 2011)
  • Home to five U.S./North American Manufacturing R&D Centers
    • Cummins Inc (CMI) – R&D and Tech Center for diesel engine & component technologies, plus world HQ and production
    • Faurecia – U.S. R&D center for Emissions Controls Technologies, plus production
    • Dorel – North American Technical Center for Child Safety, plus production
    • Enkei – U.S. R&D for Automotive Aluminum Wheels, plus production
    • PMG Indiana – U.S. R&D Center for Sintered Powder Metal Automotive Applications, plus production
  • Columbus, IN is highly specialized in the following Advanced Manufacturing industries:
    • Machinery (& Engine) Mfg: 19.47 x U.S. Employment Average
    • Transportation (& Automotive) Equipment Mfg: 8.48 x U.S. Average
    • Fabricated Metal Product Mfg: 2.72 x U.S. Average
    • Plastics & Rubber Product Mfg: 2.18 x U.S. Average
    • Paper Product Mfg: 3.75 x U.S. Average

Business Advantages for Manufacturers

  • Accessibility to nearly 65% of the U.S. population within one day (11-hour truck transit), and situated within the heart of the U.S. automotive manufacturing belt.
  • Convenient access to I-65, with nearly 750 acres of available industrial sites within 1.5 miles
  • Quick access to three of the nation’s leading air freight hubs: Indianapolis International Airport – home to FedEx 2nd largest air hub (55 mi / 90 km); Louisville International – home to UPS largest air hub (85 mi / 135 km); Cincinnati-Northern KY Int’l – home to DHL super hub (83 mi / 134 km).
  • Rail-service provided by Louisville & Indiana (L&I) short line, with connections to intermodal hubs in Indianapolis and the Jeffersonville Port of Indiana – the fastest growing port on the Inland Waterway System.


Manufacturing Workforce Strengths

  • Columbus, IN is home to more mechanical engineers per worker than any other metropolitan area in the United States (21.6/1,000 workers, latest disclosed BLS data)
  • More than 62,000 persons employed regionally in manufacturing sector (IDWD – Jan 2013)
  • The Columbus, IN commuting region is home to 1.7 million persons with a total labor force of 884,064.  Average commute is 19.8 minutes (approximately 15 miles/24 km) with an effective commuting region of 45-60 minutes (approximately 35 mile/56 km radius).
  • Indiana is the first Right-To-Work state in the industrial Midwest, and with 9.1% union membership in 2012, Indiana is lower than the U.S. average (11.3%) and lower than all neighboring states (BLS Jan 23, 2013 Release). Area states compared – graphic.

Unique Education Support for Manufacturers

  • Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence (AMCE): Opened in 2012, the AMCE is utilized by our city’s higher education providers, in partnership with local industry, to offer college degree & certification programs.  AMCE houses 13 teaching laboratories, including:
    • Materials & Heat Treatment
    • Mechanical Engineering
    • Mechatronics
    • Metrology
    • PLC Systems
    • Robotics
  • Focused Higher Education: Columbus is home to a shared campus of Indiana University/Purdue University of Columbus (IUPUC), Purdue College of Technology, and Ivy Tech Community College.  Each of these state schools offer relevant, local manufacturing certificate and degree program coursework to meet the needs of area employers, including B.S. Mechanical Engineering, A.S. Mechanical Engineering Technology, MSSC certifications, and many more.  The flagship campus of I.U. is less than 40 miles away in Bloomington, and engineering powerhouses, Purdue and Rose Hulman Institute, are within 2 hours drive.
  • Leader in K-12 STEM Education: With over 300 schools, Indiana leads the nation in “Project Lead the Way” programming, offering students in Grades 7-12 hands-on, project-based, pre-engineering & other STEM-related coursework.  The Columbus, Indiana region leads the state in PLTW enrollment, growing from 500 in 2007 to more than 3,500 students today.  With these successes, project-based STEM education elements are now offered in local schools beginning as early as Kindergarten, filling the workforce pipeline for tomorrow’s manufacturers.
  • Vocational / Technical Training: Columbus, Indiana is a regional center for high school Vocational/Technical training.  The Columbus Area Career Connection (C4) provides training to over 3,000 students from 5 counties and 11 high schools each year.  More than 600 internships & job-shadowing opportunities are offered, and dual-credit agreements with local universities offer Engineering Manufacturing Technology programs, including:
    • Engineering CAD
    • Precision Machining (CNC, Lathe, Etc)
    • Pre-Engineering
    • Welding
  • Achievement: 27.2% of local adults hold a Bachelor’s Degree or higher, ranking us in the TOP 15% of U.S. counties.  An additional 25.6% of local adults possess an Associate’s Degree or some college.