"There was a realization that no one was coming to pull us out of the deep water. We got together and started pulling ourselves up," said Charles Staley, 70, a former senior engineer at GM's defunct Delco-Remy subsidiary in Anderson, who now heads the enterprise center. "Today, it's stable," he said of the local economy. "We're growing. We're expanding."

So far, 17 foreign companies, including Swiss foods giant Nestlé SA and NTN Corp., the Japanese drive shaft maker, have located plants in the city, only a few them tied to the automotive industry. Purdue University, which has one of the largest U.S. engineering programs, plans to open a polytechnic campus next spring on land where a GM plant once stood.

"Have we replaced all the jobs we lost? No. But we've got the first 5,000 or 6,000 in," said Greg Winkler, Anderson's director of economic development. "What we're doing now is finding a way to reintegrate this city into the global conversation."

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 10, 2016 13:15 ET (18:15 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2016 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.