HANCOCK COUNTY — A major North American trucking company is scouting a 160-acre site in Hancock County as the potential location of a new corporate headquarters.
Representatives from Celadon Group, an Indianapolis-based company with more than 4,000 employees across North America, presented preliminary plans Tuesday to construct a campus at the intersection of Mt. Comfort Road and West County Road 300N.
The company has run out of room for growth at its current headquarters, just east of Post Road in Indianapolis, 9503 E. 33rd St., and is in the process of deciding where to expand. Joe Weigel, marketing director, said the company is considering several sites for the development throughout central Indiana.
Wherever Celadon lands, it will bring about 500 jobs, most of which will be filled by existing employees. It’s unclear how many jobs will be open to local residents or what those jobs would pay if the company moves to Hancock County, Weigel said.
Celadon, a full-service transportation company, carries goods for companies including Lowe’s, Wal-Mart and General Motors.
The proposal to bring the business to the county cleared its first hurdle at Tuesday’s plan commission meeting, where members approved a preliminary plan to allow construction at the site.
Plans include a four-story, 54,000- square-foot administration building; a 73,000-square-foot maintenance facility; and a 30,000-square-foot dormitory available for drivers staying overnight. Two retention ponds on the property would collect rainwater runoff.
Celadon, a publicly traded company founded in 1985, runs trucking routes throughout North America and owns subsidiaries in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Company records show earnings for the final quarter of 2015 totaled $275 million, almost 24 percent higher than the same period from the previous year.
Cost of the proposed construction has not been released.
The site, less than half a mile from Interstate 70, would serve as an overnight hub for drivers and would feature a six-acre paved lot for driver training, according to development plans submitted to the county planning office.
County council member Bill Bolander, who also sits on the county plan commission, said the project would be a big development for the area.
Renderings of the property reveal a sleek, glass-walled administration building, with attractive landscaping throughout, Bolander said.
“There’s no doubt,” he said, “it’d be a great project for the area.”
But the project is far from finalized.
Company representatives are scheduled to present plans to the Hancock County Board of Commissioners at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Hancock County Annex, 111 American Legion Place, for approval to move forward.
Representatives are then expected to request a tax break from the county council to save money while they develop the site.
A construction timeline has not been established, Weigel said, adding that the company has not purchased any property yet.
“We’ll take it one step at a time,” he said.
Aside from offering better access than the company’s current facility to I-70 — a major east-west transportation corridor — the Mt. Comfort site offers room to expand, Weigel said.
Trucks would enter the facility from Mt. Comfort Road through an existing access road that currently leads to the nearby Pilot and Speedway gas stations.
Cars would access the site through two entrances from West County Road 300N, according to planning documents.
Gary Pool, county highway engineer, said the area’s existing infrastructure would easily accommodate the increase in truck traffic. When Mt. Comfort Road was widened in 2004, it was designed to make way for future development, Pool said.
County Road 300N would likely need some improvements to support additional traffic, he said.
As plans continue to develop, local officials will study what improvements need to be made, Pool added.
If it does come to fruition, the project, which falls into one of the county’s tax-increment financing, or TIF, districts, would likely generate a significant amount of money for local road projects, said Skip Kuker, director of the Hancock Economic Development Council.
TIF districts, which encompass commercial property, are areas designated by county officials that reserve some property taxes collected from businesses in the area to support improvement projects.
TIF funds from that part of the county will eventually go toward a plan to widen Mt. Comfort Road to relieve rush-hour traffic, which is already a problem in the area and is expected to worsen with county growth.
County officials are optimistic about Celadon’s plans, but they know there are several steps ahead.
If the plan gains approval from local officials, the county could still lose the deal to another community the company decides is more attractive, Kuker said. If plans move forward, construction could be years away, he added.
“It’s a marathon; not a sprint,” Kuker said. “But there’s so much potential.”