INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Economic Development Corp. (IEDC), in partnership with Conexus Indiana, has announced the third round of Manufacturing Readiness Grants, given to 31 Indiana businesses, totaling approximately $1.5 million.

Gov. Eric J. Holcomb first announced the grants in May under the Economic Activity Stabilization and Enhancement (EASE) program. The grants, which are a key part of Holcomb’s 2021 Next Level Agenda announced in December, are designed to stimulate manufacturing investments that will position Hoosier operations, and the sector overall, for future growth and prosperity.

“As a state, it’s critical that we support manufacturers as they modernize their operations and efficiencies to succeed in today’s 21st century economy,’’ Holcomb said in an announcement. “Like many industries, this sector has faced unprecedented challenges this year, yet these Hoosiers are pushing full steam ahead. We’re encouraged by their continued commitment to enhancing and growing their businesses, solidifying our state’s reputation as the top manufacturing state in the nation per capita.”

The 31 manufacturers receiving grants represent 21 Indiana counties and cover a wide range of specialties, including automotive, aerospace and defense, agriculture, machinery and construction, consumer packaging products, and health care and medical. Together, these businesses plan to invest more than $15 million in technology and equipment to position their companies for future growth by increasing capacity and modernizing operations. Five of the manufacturers — Ameri-Can Engineering, DQE Inc., Meyer Plastics Inc., Primex Plastics Corporation and Universal Technologies LLC — are accelerating operational investments in health care manufacturing or preparedness technology to support critical COVID-19 response efforts.

Northeast Indiana recipients include:

• DeKalb Molded Plastics (DeKalb County; $20,000 grant award), based in Butler for more than 40 years, is a custom structural foam molder specializing in large, multi-nozzle plastic products servicing the medical, safety, transportation and material handling industries. The company is installing two automated robot cells with Fanuc robots to increase efficiency.

• EarthWay Products (Elkhart County; $100,000 grant award), a family-owned business in Bristol since 1955, manufactures lawn and garden equipment for turf scientists, landscape professionals and homeowners. The company is automating a production line of spreader/seeders with cobots to replace highly repetitive work and improve capacity by 30%.

• Koester Metals Inc. (Steuben County; $20,000 grant award), a sheet metal fabricator formed in Defiance, Ohio, in 1975 that moved to Fremont in 2010, is upgrading to a more advanced laser cutting system with expanded load and unload capability to expand capacity and capability for larger and thicker metal, enabling longer lights-out runs. The company is also adding remote monitoring and troubleshooting capabilities.

• Micro Etch Technologies LLC (Elkhart County; $75,000 grant award) manufactures small, thin gauge metal components for electronics, medical, aerospace and other industries. Founded in 1988 in Elkhart, the company is upgrading its manufacturing technology and capabilities with investments in a digital microscope, digital CMM and chemical etching system.

• TouchTronics Inc. (Elkhart County; $50,000 grant award), based in Elkhart for more than 35 years, manufactures wireless and Bluetooth controllers and monitoring solutions for the commercial truck, RV, marine and public safety industries. This woman-owned business is investing in automated equipment to manufacture and assemble circuit boards, wire harnesses and injection-molded parts to enhance quality, efficiency, speed and product performance.

• Viewrail /Stair Supplies (Iron Baluster Inc.) (Elkhart County; $20,000 grant award) manufactures premium stair parts for homeowners, builders and contractors. Based in Goshen since 2004, the company is developing an automated powder coat line to transition from batch to continuous flow as part of an overall automation effort.

The IEDC initially made $4 million available for Indiana Manufacturing Readiness Grants and has since been able to expand the awards for Hoosier manufacturers with support of CARES Act funding. The awards are issued in the form of matching grants up to or equal to the amount of the qualified investment in new equipment and machinery (minimum 1:1 investment match). While the allocated program funding has been exceeded, Conexus, with the input of a peer review panel, will continue to assess applications and make funding recommendations to the IEDC, which will fund select applications if and when additional funding becomes available. Eligibility requirements and the grant application are available online.

For more than a decade, Conexus Indiana, one of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP) nonprofit initiatives, has been positioning the Hoosier State as the best place for advanced manufacturing and logistics industries to invest, employ and succeed. By collaborating with industry, academic and public sector partners on a shared vision for an innovative, skilled workforce and stronger business climate, Conexus Indiana has helped to create opportunities for advanced manufacturing and logistics companies, prepare Hoosiers to succeed in the state’s largest industry sectors and maintain Indiana’s competitive advantage. For more information, go to www.conexusindiana.com.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. leads Indiana’s economic development efforts, helping businesses launch, grow and locate in the state. Governed by a 15-member board chaired by Holcomb, the IEDC manages many initiatives, including performance-based tax credits, workforce training grants, innovation and entrepreneurship resources, public infrastructure assistance, and talent attraction and retention efforts. For more information about the IEDC, visit www.iedc.in.gov.

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