Inside LynodellBasell’s U.S. 41 location in Evansville Aug. 24. The global company headquartered in Houston manufactures colored plastic pellets for use in household, automotive and sports products. MACABE BROWN / COURIER & PRESS
Inside LynodellBasell’s U.S. 41 location in Evansville Aug. 24. The global company headquartered in Houston manufactures colored plastic pellets for use in household, automotive and sports products. MACABE BROWN / COURIER & PRESS
Ben Ford said he has a lot to offer potential hires at LynodellBasell’s Evansville facilities, from an average starting salary of $23 an hour to good benefits to opportunities for quick advancement, either locally or at one of the company’s other facilities.

Finding and keeping quality staff, though, remains a challenge for Ford and other local industry site managers.

With the unemployment rate around 3.5%, it remains a competitive, challenging environment for companies wanting to grow their operations. Applications at LyondellBasell have ebbed and flowed.

“We did wage increases early this year which gave us a little shot in the arm, but interestingly, it waned pretty quickly,” Ford said. “We had a month, month and a half with interest in jobs, then it went away for 2-3 months, now it seems everybody’s interested again.”

LynodellBasell manufactures colored plastic pellets for use in household, automotive and sports products. One major client is Ridell, manufacturer of football and baseball helmets. A global company with U.S. headquarters in Houston, LyondellBasell’s Evansville workforce is more than 300, including 125 or so at its U.S. 41 location across from North Junior-Senior High School. Demand for the company’s plastic product is high all over the world. In Evansville, workers churn pellets on three shifts.

Officials anticipate adding to LyondellBasell’s Evansville workforce in 2023 – if they can find the people, that is. For an entry-level role, a high school education is all that’s required. There isn’t a big “help wanted” sign on the front of LyondellBasell’s plant on U.S. 41, but otherwise, the company is going all out to find the staff it needs.

“We are a global corporation,” said Megan Borchers, a senior North America communications official with LyondellBassell. “In Evansville, Indiana, maybe people don’t think about it in those terms. But we have conversations with our counterparts all over the world. These are strong, local jobs you can feed your family on.”

Local employment, by the numbers

According to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development’s report for July, the employment sector in Southwest Indiana with the greatest need remains laborers and farmworkers. Registered nurses is second, and many other health care fields also report high need.

With the exception of more than 600 layoffs at Century Aluminum in nearby Hancock County, Kentucky, in late June, many industries in the area continue to hire.

Vanderburgh County showed a 3.4% unemployment rate for July. That’s miniscule, but it’s actually higher than Warrick 3%), Posey (2.8%), Gibson (2.7%), Pike (3.2%) and Dubois (2.5%). The statewide rate is 3.5%.

In Kentucky, Henderson County checks in with 4.1% unemployment, while Union County shows 4.7% and Webster County 4.2%.

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