Updated: Friday, 30 Nov 2012, 6:58 PM EST
Published : Friday, 30 Nov 2012, 6:58 PM EST
WASHINGTON, IND. (WTHI) - A new highway may have some automotive supply companies giving a second look at southern Indiana.
I-69 opened earlier this month from Crane to Evansville and the state is working on plans to finish the roadway to Indianapolis.
There are some indications the new interstate may be catching the interest of companies that supply parts for the big Toyota plant in Princeton.
When officials cut the ribbon on 67 miles of I-69 earlier this month, they were predicting the road would improve the economy of southern Indiana.
One place that helps drive that impact is the Toyota plant in Princeton.
A company official says he can see some of its suppliers taking a fresh look at communities along the new road.
"The suppliers will make their own decisions," said Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Indiana President Norm Bafunno. "The tier one suppliers, the tier 2 suppliers here in the United States and having the opportunity now to move in an easier way connecting their supply chain down here, I think would make a lot of sense for people to look again."
Communities along the highway are anxious to see the kind of growth the auto industry could provide.
"As we talk to economic development people and site selectors they are just as elated as we are that I69 is here because they feel for companies like Toyota and their suppliers it opens up their world," said Washington Mayor Joe Wellman.
Right now local officials aren't saying if they've had any contacts from Toyota's suppliers, but they do say if anyone is willing to call they'll listen.
"I would be glad to talk to any of them," said Wellman. "I would welcome any of them to call..call me."
Now that the road is open and the way is clear, communities here are hoping some new industry and jobs will be driven to Southern Indiana.
Department of Transportation officials say the expect to open the section of I69 from Crane to Bloomington in 2014.
Plans are also being drawn to expand Indiana 37 to interstate standards all the way to Indianapolis.
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