Council approves business district

FORTVILLE — Almost 200 acres of farmland along Fortville Pike could be the future site of a bustling business park — or so local leaders hope.

The Fortville Town Council this week unanimously approved a plan to create a tax-increment financing, or TIF district, which will use property tax dollars from new development on the south side of the community to improve the area and attract companies to set up shop nearby.

The district, which measures approximately 186 acres in all, is currently covered in crops, but town officials said they hope the plan will spur economic growth in the area.

When businesses choose to build in the new district, the town will put their property tax payments toward infrastructure improvements, such as new roads, buildings and development plans.

The new district — the town’s second — is called the Central Fortville Economic Development Area.

The town council’s approval comes on the heels of its recent decision to expand a previously created TIF district off Broadway Street. That move more than quadrupled the size of the area, allowing it to encompass properties throughout downtown Fortville, so revenue collected could be put toward infrastructure improvements, like new sidewalks and crosswalks.

Though the new district is currently empty, the area was created in anticipation of development in the area, said council president Bill Hiday.

With the town’s proximity to Indianapolis and Fishers — both rapidly growing areas — development will inevitably spill into Fortville, Hiday said.

Mike Frischkorn, vice president of the Fortville Redevelopment Commission, which oversees the area’s TIF districts, said designating the land as a TIF district primes the community for future development by showing businesses money is being set aside to improve the area.

Though development might not come to the area for 10 or 20 years, establishing the district ensures the town will be prepared, he said.

“We see it as setting the table,” Frischkorn said. “We’ll have the tools in place to take advantage of development opportunities when they come to town.”

Property taxes from the land encompassed by the town’s TIF districts currently support several local organizations, including the county and Mt. Vernon School Corp.

Schools, townships and other government entities that receive funding from that territory will continue receiving the same amount as they had in the past; but taxes collected from any new construction on the property are funneled into the TIF district.

Skip Kuker, director of the Hancock Economic Development Council, said the town’s decision is a step in the right direction.

Designating certain areas for development indicates to prospective businesses that local business leaders are committed to trying to attract new companies, he said.

“It puts their name on the map,” Kuker said, adding that Fortville’s proximity to Interstate 69 and Interstate 70 make it an attractive target for companies that need to make use of transportation corridors.

Frischkorn said the redevelopment commission is in the process of seeking a civil engineering firm to outline a development plan for both districts.

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Daniel Morgan is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at (317) 477-3228 or dmorgan@greenfieldreporter.com.