Farm equipment company Krone North America will not be coming to Shelbyville, at least for now.
Brian Asher, executive director of the Shelby County Development Corp., said he and Mayor Tom DeBaun met with Krone North America president and CEO Tommy Jones who said the decision to pull the plug on the $12.5 million project came from the company’s top brass in Germany.
“Krone’s going to have another year where they’re not going to meet their expectations,” Asher said, in terms of sales.
Potential policy changes coming from Washington were also a factor, he added.
“Changes in the farm subsidy and crop insurance,” said Asher; the subsidies are often used to purchase Krone equipment, he said.
The company makes heavy farm machinery related to the production of hay and forage crops. Most of the equipment is made in Germany and assembled in Canada. All of Krone’s products are imported into the United States.
Speaking with The Shelbyville News during a visit to the city in February, company owner Bernard Krone noted the U.S. is the company’s second largest market worldwide, and is on track to become Krone’s biggest customer.
TSN asked Krone about the possibility of Washington imposing an import tax, a tariff, that would raise the cost of his products.
He noted that the U.S. invented free trade. “Best thing is to be open-minded,” Krone said.
Asher also is open-minded, saying that Jones, the Krone North America CEO, had very positive things to say about Shelbyville, and channels with Krone will remain open for a possible deal in the future.
Meanwhile, Asher, who is also a member of the Shelbyville Common Council, pointed out that the city’s made improvements to the roughly 140-acre site on East State Road 44 just beyond the Interstate-74 interchange where Krone’s headquarters was to go.
The city’s put in sewer lines and a road into the site, and Krone has shared with the city the results of its due diligence on the land, such as soil testing; the site is shovel-ready, he said.
“It was ready to build on as of last March,” said Asher.
Also, he pointed out the recent announcement that Kimura Foundry America Inc., a Japanese auto parts maker, plans to build a $7 million factory in Shelbyville that will use sophisticated 3-D printing technology.
Kimura plans to hire 20 workers for the factory, paying a total of $1.4 million per year in salaries. The facility is due to open in early 2019.