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Central Indiana update.

For the eight-county region of Central Indiana, it might have seemed like nothing could top the 1991 announcement that United Airlines intended to build its Maintenance Operations Center at Indianapolis International Airport.

"United Airlines is the largest economic-development project in the United States," is the way Morton Marcus, head of the Indiana Business Research Center at the Indiana University School of Business, sums it up.

Still, even though the politicians had us half convinced that 1992 was the nadir of a particularly vicious recession, Central Indiana had its share of economic-development successes during the year.


Indianapolis International Airport continues to be the focus of economic development in Central Indiana. United Airlines broke ground on its maintenance center in August, and 2,000 to 2,500 construction workers are expected to be employed on the project before its completion.

USAir increased its number of flights by 40 percent during the year--to 150 a day--and the U.S. Postal Service Eagle Air Hub was completed on time, although litigation over the federal bidding process has delayed the facility's opening.

Early this year, Federal Express continued the trend for expansion at the Indianapolis airport when it announced that it was beginning a $30 million expansion of its facilities here. The Memphis-based air-express firm has an option on an additional 100 acres at the airport, and its phased expansion in Indianapolis could result in tripling the company's 1,000-person Indianapolis work force by early in the next century.

"The future growth of the company will occur here," says Dennis Rosebrough of the Indianapolis Airport Authority. "Basically, they ran out of room in Memphis."

Rosebrough adds that Indianapolis, now the 12th-largest cargo airport in the country, isn't resting on its laurels. The Airport Authority will break ground on a new 11,200-foot runway this fall, replacing an existing 10,000-foot runway, which will in turn free up an area for the airport's new Midfield Terminal.

Elsewhere in Indianapolis, key industries continue to expand their facilities. Carrier Corp., the big heating and air conditioning manufacturer, consolidated several of its facilities around the country into a major expansion of the Indianapolis facility. Ford Motor Co. announced a $450 million upgrade of its English Avenue plant, and Hooks SuperX broke ground on a major expansion of its eastside Indianapolis distribution warehouse.

According to Tim Monger of the Indianapolis Economic Development Corp., the North American Free Trade Agreement is attracting increasing numbers of Canadian companies to the Circle City. McMillan-Bloedel, a big Vancouver-based forest-products firm, has built a plant in the Park 100 business park to produce continuous-roll corrugated sheets for use on pallets. Veltri Stamping, a Canadian-owned automotive stamping firm, has opened facilities on the west side of Indianapolis, and ChemQue Canada Ltd. has opened a facility in Park 100.

Also, with financing in place and anchor tenants signed during 1992, Circle Centre Mall began construction on several underground parking garages for the downtown Indianapolis retail complex. Says Monger, "Circle Centre is moving off dead center."


Jeff Owen, editor of the Johnson County Daily Journal, notes that perhaps the biggest development the past year or so may have been the start-up of the Johnson County Development Corp. "They're now packaging Johnson County as a whole," Owen says. Pat Vercauteren, who previously worked for the Indiana Department of Commerce, was hired as the corporation's executive director.

Two of the county's biggest developments happened in Franklin, Vercauteren says. Fort Wayne-based Essex Group built a 76,000-square-foot facility, where it is to begin manufacturing magnet wire this month. The $18 million investment is expected to create about 50 jobs. And NSK Corp., a Japanese-owned automotive-component company, finished its facility and has begun hiring personnel. It operates a 154,000-square-foot wheel-hub bearing plant and a 76,000-square-foot precision ball screw plant in Franklin.

Also in Franklin, Vercauteren says, Arvin North American Automotive installed new equipment, Franklin Plastic Products expanded its facility and Franklin Mills built a new distribution facility. And just north of Edinburgh, Sullivan Mining this spring is to begin building a factory where it will make precision ceramic automotive components, Vercauteren says.

More Johnson County development could blossom in the future, following completion of road construction projects on Indiana 135, U.S. 31 and Interstate 65 during 1992. Pleasant and White River townships surrounding Greenwood reported the best year ever for housing starts in 1992, with 378 permits issued, and county officials expect the low mortgage interest rates to push that number over 400 in 1993.

Ed Ferguson, Greenwood's planning director, reports that retail development was steady during the past year. Among other things, Meijer, a big Michigan retailer, announced plans to build a "superstore" at Main Street and Indiana 135. Lockhart Cadillac recently opened its new Saturn and Cadillac dealership on U.S. 31 in Greenwood, and Sam's Club finished a 40,000-square-foot expansion of its Greenwood store.


If events of 1992 are any indication, Shelby County residents might want to consider taking foreign-language lessons. Two new manufacturing plants opened in Shelbyville during the year, and several other firms embarked upon major expansions.

Nippisun Indiana opened a plant to make colorized plastic pellets for plastics molding firms. The $10 million, Japanese-owned plant opened in August, and will employ 99 people when it hits full production. ENBI Indiana Corp., a Dutch-owned firm that makes tractor drives for paper machines, opened in December. The $10 million plant will eventually employ 115 people.

Ryobi Diecasting began a $27 million expansion in March that will add 123 new jobs to its existing work force of 170 people. PK USA, another Japanese-owned plant, announced a $4 million expansion in 1992 that will increase its work force 15 percent to 300 people.

David Richmond of the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce says the community is improving its infrastructure to capitalize on the recent foreign investment. Shelbyville has two major road improvement projects underway--on Indiana 9 and on Rampart Street--and the city is in the process of extending city sewers under Interstate 74 and improving the airport runway system.

Perhaps the most farsighted project under way is a new $4 million advanced learning and technical center under construction in a Shelbyville industrial park. "It's going to be a one-stop shopping center for all kinds of vocational and industrial training," Richmond says.


Development activity slowed down a little in Greenfield and Hancock County during the year, according to Tom Miller of the Council for Economic Development in Greenfield.

Miller says he sees a major turnaround for 1993. Hancock County has been in contact with several companies interested in making "potentially very large investments. We've got two or three firms right at the point of making a major decision."

Indiana Precision Technology, a joint-venture Japanese and U.S. manufacturer that makes fuel injectors for American Honda, announced a $15 million expansion of its plant at Indiana 9 and Interstate 70 that will result in the addition of 50 to 75 employees. Paul Fedorchak, editor of the Daily Reporter in Greenfield, says he thinks industrial and commercial growth in the county will be concentrated at that interchange for the foreseeable future.


Hamilton County continues to grow. The booming county immediately north of Indianapolis got a strong new development tool last fall when six communities and the county government formed the Hamilton County Alliance as a clearinghouse for local economic-development efforts.

"It's a public-private partnership involving Carmel, Cicero, Fishers, Noblesville, Sheridan and Westfield, plus the county," explains Jeff Burt, the alliance's executive director.

The county played host to a number of major industrial and commercial development announcements during the year. Thomson Consumer Electronics is well on the way to completing its new North American headquarters.

Indiana Insurance Co. is ready to move into its new building at Parkwood Office Park in the southern part of the county, and Continental Insurance is building a 400-person regional center in Carmel.

Meijer is building a 200,000-square-foot superstore near 126th and Meridian, and the Sylvania Lighting Division of Siemens is occupying new facilities in Westfield.

Fishers remains perhaps the hottest development location in the county. Indy Lighting has 400 employees in its new headquarters, manufacturing and distribution facility, and Polygram Records moved 100 employees into a new 500,000-square-foot distribution facility. Fishers city officials estimate that the population of the community has jumped from 7,500 to 13,500 in the three years since the completion of the 1990 census.


Zionsville and Lebanon continue to exhibit strong growth in residential housing and industrial and commercial development.

Glen Hudson of the Boone County Economic Development Corp. notes that the Indiana 32 and I-65 interchange remains the focus for much of the development in the county just northwest of Indianapolis. Etalon Inc., a Lizton-based manufacturer of electronic transducers, announced last spring that it was expanding on an eight-acre plot in Lebanon adjacent to the new White Castle meat-processing plant. White Castle is in the process of starting a second shift, which will double its work force of 30 people. Hudson anticipates a spring construction start for an expansion of United Industrial Tire in Lebanon.

A proposed 80,000-square-foot manufacturer's outlet mall at the interchange is expected to begin construction later this year.

The plat for a new 125-acre industrial park recently was approved for Zionsville.


If you think that Hendricks County's economic development during the past year has been tied to the United Airlines development, think again.

"It's our turn to grow," says Dan Theobald of the Greater Plainfield Chamber of Commerce. "And right now, that growth isn't necessarily United-connected."

The Air-West Business Park on Indiana 267 at Plainfield was scheduled to break ground in March, and Southfield Crossing, a light industrial and retail park at 267 and Stanley Road, will break ground sometime this spring.

Theobald's office is working on trying to get a planned-unit development started on a 400-acre tract west of Plainfield on U.S. 40, and the city is in the process of annexing a large area east of Plainfield all the way to the Marion County line.

Theobald's office is on the third floor of a Plainfield building with no elevator, and he says that office space is a big need in the county right now. "There is none," he points out.


The bright spot in Morgan County continues to be Mooresville.

"The Mooresville area is growing strong," says Reginald McCracken of the Morgan County Economic Development Corp. in Martinsville. "They've got two new industrial parks and two new subdivisions going in."

McCracken says the southern part of the county is hampered by the fact that "it's too far from Bloomington and too far from Indianapolis. The north and central parts of Morgan County are readily accessible to Indianapolis."

There is a 1,600-acre site that has drawn attention from a major, unnamed company as the home of a combination industrial and research facility. McCracken says the site, located between Indiana highways 67 and 37 midway between Mooresville and Martinsville, would help to open up the southern and central portions of Morgan County to future development.
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Title Annotation:economic development projects
Author:Beck, Bill
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Apr 1, 1993
Previous Article:Getting it to the printer; the desktop publishing revolution continues.
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