As the month of August flies by, I am looking forward to the annual Indiana Legislative Tour at the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) in Crane, Ind. The event is coming up in just a little over one week and will provide an excellent opportunity for legislators to learn more about the facility and the significant role that it plays in our part of the state.
This occasion also provides an opportunity for me to share with all of you some background on these operations that many people know very little about, even in our area. The Crane Division is a shore command of the U.S. Navy, operating under the Naval Sea Systems Command which is headquartered in Washington DC. This 100 square mile facility, located right here in the heartland of Indiana, is home to 3,068 Navy employees. This makes it the 3rd largest Navy installation in the world.
Since March 2004 and the federal approval of the I-69 corridor, there has been quite the buzz surrounding Crane and southern Indiana. Although it just recently became a reality, the idea for this corridor was decades in the making. At the peak of construction in 2011, I-69 was the longest contiguous new terrain interstate project in the country. Ultimately, it is meant to provide a major artery between the northern and southern ends of the United States.
This puts Indiana in an enviable position in the movement of goods and services throughout the country and allows our state to attract new, competitive jobs. Unfortunately, in the recent past, the corridor region has experienced below-average growth in numerous important indicators of economic success, including employment, population and personal income.
Area officials viewed the construction of I-69, particularly the area from Evansville to Crane as an excellent opportunity to help alleviate these recognized problems and encourage growth and innovation in the region. To assist in making this vision a reality, the Evansville-Crane I-69 Innovation Corridor Consortium was created. This Consortium is composed of government leaders from southwest Indiana as well as business, healthcare and education representatives and economic development officials.