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State eyes attracting military spending

– State officials have started an effort to attract more military spending to Indiana even though the Defense Department is facing billions of dollars in automatic federal budget cuts.

Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann announced Monday that Duane Embree, a longtime civilian executive at southern Indiana’s Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center, would lead the new Office of Defense Development. Gov. Mike Pence created the office using an executive order in January.

Ellspermann said companies do an estimated $4 billion in defense-related work a year in Indiana and that the state wants to better promote itself for that business.

“Our goal is to not only to preserve and protect the assets we have today but also to open our doors” to other opportunities, Ellspermann said.

Embree retired last year after 35 years as a civilian Navy administrator, including 13 years as a top official at the Crane center. The facility near Bloomington has 6,000 employees.

Ellspermann cited Crane’s economic impact along with several other major defense-related employers around the state, such as Rolls-Royce, which builds engines for military planes and helicopters in Indianapolis; AM General’s Humvee factory in Mishawaka; and Ameriqual, which makes military meals in Evansville.

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