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Dean Baldwin News

Senator Donnelly Visits Dean Baldwin

May 19, 2023

One of the “instrumental” figures in having Dean Baldwin Painting in Miami County visited in for the first time Monday.

Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., visited along with a number of notable figures from the area, including Mayor Jim Walker, Commissioner Josh Francis, and Miami County Economic Development Authority Executive Director Jim Tidd.

Donnelly said he had “worked together with (MCEDA) for a long time to try to be a good partner and help get Dean Baldwin here” and that it was his “first chance to be here since they opened up.”

“It’s a terrific business,” Donnelly said. “They employ a lot of our local people. It’s a great skilled trade. It’s good for our families, it’s good for our economy, and it helps to put our area on the map.”
While at the facility, Donnelly spoke with multiple employees and sanded one of the “training planes” that new hires work with.

James Spencer, a lead-in training and painter at the facility, showed Donnelly how to work the sander and what he looks for while sanding.

Spencer said Donnelly did “just fine” at sending the plane’s previous paint job.

He said it was important for elected officials to visit facilities like Dean Baldwin because “we need to get more people back into the workforce.”

“We need to have more jobs coming into the area so people can actually make a living because we’ve lost too many jobs out of this area,” Spencer said. “We need new jobs coming into the state so people can live.”

Donnelly said there was “a lot more wisdom in Miami County than in Washington, D.C.,” and that “the more people I talk to here, the better off” he is.

“This is very, very important to me and is very close to my heart” Donnelly said of job creation. “The more families where mom and dad are working, the better off we are.”

General Manager Chris Renteria said he was happy to have Donnelly visit, saying “he helped us to put this place together.”

“It was nice for him to come out and see the finished product, “he said. “It’s always good for them to see where their money went at the end of the day. Anyone is welcome here at any time, including our elected officials.”

Renteria said the company was booked through 2015 for painting airplanes and would be “ramping up” its workforce soon, expecting to have 180 total employees by early September.

Prior to the start of his tour, Tidd told Donnelly a brief history of the facility, which is part of Grissom Aeroplex.

“This was an asset that the Air Force gave to the community back during the base realignment and closure,” he said. “It sat vacant since 1994. It had been in a condition for nine years. You could imagine what the facility looked like.”

He said the community “started this project with a dream,” which was “how do you use some of these assets that we have to turn it back into aviation development to help diversify the regional economy.”

Tidd said the facility was a $13.8 million project, which was funded through five agencies: The United States Department of Agriculture, MCEDA, Office of Community and Rural Affairs, Indiana Economic Development Corporation, and the local community.

Donnelly said he was “privileged” to have worked to bring it into reality.

“Together, I thought we made a really good team. No one ever worried about politics or any of that nonsense,” he said. “Everyone said, ‘How do we put more people to work? How do we grow our economy? How do we make our aviation history even greater?’”