Is Cummins still coming? No clear timeline for Greenwood facility

There has been no movement on a Greenwood property the city and Cummins announced plans to develop a year and a half ago. 

Greenwood’s deal with Columbus-based Cummins is up in the air, with little details about when or if the company will bring a new facility to the city. 

Cummins is still coming to Greenwood, Mayor Mark Myers has said repeatedly. But when that will happen is not clear. The project is delayed indefinitely due to the financial hit the company took from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

In May 2019, Cummins announced plans to build a 100,000-square-foot information technology and digital hub in Greenwood, on a property located at the southeast corner of Interstate 65 and County Line Road.

[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]

City officials touted this as the biggest economic development move in the city’s history. Millions of dollars are at stake if the project doesn’t happen. The city offered the company taxpayer incentives totaling more than $10 million.

Of that money, the city already spent $7.7 million to buy 85 acres of land from County Line Properties, LLC for Cummins and other developments, such as a hotel, offices and retail center, Myers said. 

The city planned to sell 31 acres of the property to Cummins for $10. The 31 acres are valued at $5 million, according to city documents.

The city also planned to spend up to $3 million on road improvements and utilities, reimburse the company for construction of a parking lot valued at about $1.8 million and donate $1 million to the Central Nine Career Center in Greenwood as part of the deal. All of those incentives are on hold until the project starts, Myers said.

Cummins’s partnership with Central Nine is on hold, too, along with the rest of the project, said Tiffany Sansone, Central Nine’s spokesperson. There had not been a specified use for the $1 million gift yet, but Central Nine officials had said it could be spent on more space and equipment, and new curriculum. 

Essentially, discussions are in the same place they were earlier this year, when the city and Cummins began considering delaying the project after the onset of the pandemic. Like most businesses this year, the company suffered significant financial losses.

Cummins Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger said in an interview with The Republic on May 11 that the company "likes the project a lot," but with the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, it would likely need to be postponed. The statement came after Cummins reported its first-quarter revenue fell 17% compared to the same time last year.

In July, Cummins reported second quarter results that included the largest drop in sales in a decade and the largest quarterly revenue decline in the company’s 101-year history — 38% — due to industry-wide company shutdowns and weak economic activity related to the pandemic, according to The Republic. Third-quarter revenue increased compared to the previous one, but was still down 11% from the same time last year. 

Myers said the city understands Cummins wanting to hold off on the project because of the pandemic. He would not share any details about the discussions he’s had with the company, adding that there is no new project timeline, nor a revised project agreement.

The initial project agreement, signed on May 20, 2019, said Cummins needed to start construction by June 30, 2020, or the City of Greenwood could terminate the deal. Right now, the city is still on board to continue as long as the Cummins is, Myers said.

Once started, construction would take up to two years; June 30, 2022 was the original completion date. 

"There is no solid timeline right now," Myers said.

Cummins is to invest at least $35 million in the Greenwood project, which is expected to bring 500 jobs paying, on average, $100,000, including benefits, to the city, according to the initial contract. 

Neither the city nor Cummins would provide details about what a revised project agreement might look like. Myers said legal teams are working it, though. 

Cummins spokesperson Jon Mills also confirmed last week the company and Greenwood are still in discussions, but the company had no new details to share.

The property at I-65 and County Line Road — where Cummins is expected to build — has a long history. Greenwood has spent millions in the last decade to entice developers to build there. So far, four out of five, Cummins being the fifth, have backed out of deals.

It started 13 years ago with a much-anticipated deal for Cabela’s to build a store and indoor water park. The city invested $750,000 in infrastructure improvements. Then, between 2014 and 2017, the city invested millions in three more failed projects including a hotel and sports complex, a 700,000-square-foot shopping center, and an ice rink.

Myers remains confident Cummins will be the one that comes to fruition, he said

"They say they’re still coming," Myers said.