The Brazil Economic Development Commission has taken the initial steps toward bringing new jobs to the city.
The commission was informed of a proposal submitted by Mayor Tom Arthur that, if successful, would bring nearly 400 new industrial jobs into the city. Under the proposal, dubbed Project Pumpkin, Brazil will compete with other Indiana cities that meet the firm's general criteria, which include a population at or near 10,000, general proximity to an airport and quick access to an interstate highway. A consultant contracted by the company will make a final recommendation Dec. 16.
Arthur said the benefits of luring a major employer to Brazil would extend well beyond city limits.
"We're trying to think regionally," he said. "This is something that can benefit Terre Haute at the same time."
The identity of the company has not been disclosed. Classified as a distribution and light manufacturing firm, it reports a "very low" rate of workforce turnover and pays an average hourly wage of $11.62. The firm plans to construct a 40,000- square-foot facility in the city it ultimately chooses. An operation in Brazil would necessitate a staff of 390 full-time employees as well as some seasonal workers.
The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported steady employment growth in Clay County since a 5 percent downturn was recorded in 2002. The unemployment rate in the county has dipped considerably over the first half of 2005, from 8.3 percent in the first quarter to 6.3 percent in the second quarter. Given Clay County's relatively small population, those numbers stand to be affected significantly by the possible addition of 390 jobs.
In addition to cost-of-living indices and employment-related data, the Project Pumpkin proposal includes information on Brazil's history and cultural identity, factors that weigh significantly on a community's ability to attract new businesses. In the event that the unnamed firm opts to settle in another city, the bulk of the proposal will be used to lure other companies to the area in the future.
"At least if we don't get this one, we've got a jumping-off point now," Arthur said.
The meeting was attended by Mayor Arthur, Chairman Jeff Stewart and board members Sam Glover, Ron Harms and Frank Phillips.
The next meeting, open to the public, is set for 7 p.m. Dec. 6, at City Hall.