Cummins to expand into former Irwin building; First Financial to build center

October 26, 2010

The Republic: By Brenda Showalter Features editor

First Posted: October 26, 2010 - 1:53 pm

COLUMBUS, Ind. - Cummins Inc. plans to add 350 new professional jobs in the next 18 months in Columbus and purchase First Financial Bank's office building at Fifth and Washington streets to house the workers.

First Financial will build a new prototype banking center downtown at Third and Brown Streets.

The announcements are being made during a news conference today with Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Cummins plans to invest $5.25 million to purchase and equip the 83,000 square-foot facility, according to the governor's office.

Construction will begin in the spring on the "prototype" center which will offer full banking services at the corner of Third and Brown streets. It will be a minimum of 14,000 square feet and possibly larger.

The bank owns the 2.9 acres on which it previously had planned to build a center until it purchased the former Irwin Union Bank and Trust Co. and moved into its offices.Mark Gerstle, Cummins vice president and chief administrative officer, told The Republic that the company's Commons office building has about 400 employees and is expected to be filled by the end of March when about 100 more workers will move into the building.

Gerstle said expanding business internationally created the need for more workers in professional and technical roles, and the company wanted to place those workers in Columbus."

All of this is really due to the strength of the international markets," he said. "Growth outside the United States creates jobs in the United States."

Cummins' commitment to Columbus also was enhanced by Indiana's commitment to education, Gerstle said.

Improving educational systems, including early childhood education, help "attract people, retain people and keep the communities healthy," Gerstle said.Gerstle also said Cummins is remodeling its flood-damaged child development center on Pleasant Grove for use again for Cummins' employees. The company currently is using Jefferson Education Center for childcare, which after Cummins leaves, will continue to be a community childcare center.

Al Roszczyk, First Financial senior vice president commercial banking regions, said the bank will remain at the 500 Washington St. office for about 18 months while the new banking center is being constructed. First Financial also will continue to occupy and own its other facility at 435 Washington St.

The new banking center will take about 18 months to design and build, Roszczyk said.First Financial president and CEO Claude Davis said in a press release that the bank is pleased to have the opportunity to work with Cummins and provide them the space they needed.

"The sale of our Washington Street properties allows us to move forward with the development of a new state-of-the-art banking center and office complex for our sales associates in the heart of downtown Columbus," Davis said."These plans exemplify our commitment to contribute to the city's Vision 20/20 plan to bring quality development initiatives to downtown."

First Financial currently employees 102 workers downtown. Cummins has about 1,400 between the corporate and the Commons office buildings.

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