Dutch Turbine-Maker Moves Into Whirlpool Plant

Global Blade Technology?said it expects to hire 40 employees in the coming year as it moves into the?former refrigerator plant.

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) -- A Dutch company that designs and makes wind turbine blades will open its first U.S. facility at a former refrigerator plant in Evansville that Whirlpool Corp. closed last year, company and local officials said Tuesday.

Global Blade Technology executives joined Gov. Mitch Daniels and city officials in the announcing that the company would lease and equip a portion of the factory for offices and production lines for making wind blades, molds and tooling.

The Netherlands-based company said it expects to hire 40 employees in the coming year and plans to start amanufacturing facility in the area by 2014 with potentially 400 total workers.

"Evansville is an ideal location to serve the industry as it is centrally located to the massive wind farms of the Midwest and the flurry of offshore activity to the east and south," said Dan Oberle, general manager of GBT USA.

Evansville officials have been working to transform the factory site into an industrial park to replace the 1,100 jobs that were lost when Whirlpool shut down the plant and shifted its work to Mexico. Whirlpool is based in Benton Harbor, Mich.

Debbie Dewey, president of Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville, said it would be difficult to find a single company to fill the 1.2 million square-foot plant on the city's north side near Evansville Regional Airport. She said the group was working to attract startup companies and expanding businesses to the site.

About half of the factory is now occupied by companies that have some 200 workers and negotiations are ongoing with other businesses, said Chuck Harper, a vice president of The Kunkel Group development firm that bought the plant this year.