Gov. Joe Kernan strapped on a customized hard hat and a pair of goggles in Brazil Wednesday, taking a tour of the Great Dane plant after giving a speech in support of the company joining the Indiana@Work program.
Through the program and a grant that will provide up to $16,960, the company announced that it will open up 200 jobs at its Brazil plant. Approximately half of those positions have already been filled.
Kernan arrived at the plant to greet a number of onlookers, ranging from company officials to Mayor Tom Arthur. Before speaking, he was presented with a Great Dane golf shirt and two pictures of a trailer the company had done for NASCAR racer Dale Earnhardt.
"Mayor Arthur, it's good to be in your town today," he said.
The Indana@Work program will allow Great Dane to better match qualified applicants with jobs, comparing prospective employees' skills with the tasks at hand.
Any applicant who goes through a skills assessment program will be entered into the Indiana Department of Workforce Development's job database, further allowing them to find the right jobs for the right people.
"At a time when other states were pulling back, we were making, in a bipartisan way, investments," Kernan said. "It is that kind of partnership between the private and public sector that allows these investments."
Tom Arthur briefly took the floor, thanking Kernan for his visit.
"I want to thank the governor for helping to create not only jobs for Brazil and Clay County, but jobs in West Central Indiana," he said.
Kernan said a meeting with Terre Haute Mayor Kevin Burke caused him to be a little late.
"We had lunch at the Saratoga," he said. "I know I was a few minutes late, but that lemon meringue..."
Kernan then toured part of the plant, listening to a presentation given by Bruce Roach of Great Dane. He watched the various aspects of making trailers, walking through a small portion of the company's 17 indoor acres.
He also stopped to chat with a few of the company's approximate 1,100 employees, taking time to pose for pictures with them.
Kernan said the time the state has spent developing programs like Indiana@Work was well-used.
"We see training as a permanent part of the investment process," he said.