GREENFIELD — Just a few months ago, the vista outside Brandon Reeve’s office window consisted mostly of dirt and stubbly grass, he said.
Reeve’s company, Applied Fabricators, moved into the Greenfield industrial park just north of Interstate 70 in the western portion of the county in early 2015. Since then, he’s watched firsthand the boom in development taking place in the company’s backyard, with businesses popping up fill a third of the park’s space.
It’s a turnaround county officials say is a long time coming; and with about 60 percent of the land in the county’s seven industrial parks, which span about 1,000 acres, still available, they hope the growth in Alliance Interstate Park will continue to attract more developers to the area.
The 106 acres of land in the 7200 block of West County Road 200N, owned by a group of investors called Alliance Partners, was considered ready-to-build land in 2009 thanks to a state “shovel-ready site” certification, meaning local leaders had taken steps aimed at speeding up the construction process, including defining property boundaries, as well as conducting environmental and topographical assessments.
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But even with the designation in place, the land at Alliance Park sat empty for six years. In the 18 months since Applied Fabricators broke ground on its 12,000-square-foot facility, three more businesses — two manufacturing firms and one holding company — have bought land. One is open for business, while two remain under construction.
Together, the four companies are responsible for adding nearly 400,000 square feet of real estate to the county’s landscape and bringing about 100 jobs, said Skip Kuker, executive director of the Hancock Economic Development Council. About a third of those positions were newly created and opened to county residents.
Local leaders are celebrating the boom in development as a sign the economy has taken a turn for the better, and entrepreneurs are turning to Hancock County to ensure the best return on their investment.
Each company housed in Alliance Park fills a niche in its respective production area, local leaders say: Applied Fabricators specializes in molding a welding sheet metal and copper to create anything from custom kitchen equipment to roofing material; Foamcraft cuts polyurethane foam, covers and sews it into products such as children’s toys, bedding, packing and seating; Brybelly Holding, an online retailer sells a variety of novelty items ranging from playing cards to poker chips; and Landsberg Orora, an international company, produces specialty packaging for food and other products.
Reeve said he decided to move his company into Hancock County because of the property’s proximity to Interstate 70 and the willingness of county officials to work with a growing small business. Each of the four businesses in the industrial park has received a tax break; for Applied Fabricators, it equated to $89,000 throughout the course of 10 years.
It wasn’t long before the landscape outside Reeve’s office became dotted with bulldozers as other entrepreneurs followed suit, quickly filling up a third of the land in Alliance Interstate Park.
Larry Siegler, the chief operating officer for Peterson Property Services, an Indianapolis construction management firm, helps businesses learn more about available land to set up shop or expand their practices.
He suggested three of the businesses — Foamcraft, Brybelly Holdings and Landsberg Orora — consider Alliance Interstate Park.
Peterson Property Services has helped develop land across central Indiana, but economic development in Hancock County is by far the most straight-forward of any other jurisdiction the company works in, Siegler said. County leaders seem eager to make the move-in process easier, he said.
He noted the prep work to extend utilities to businesses in the park was completed in advance, and the county also paved a road running through the park. Not having to take on that work can shave off about three months for a new business setting up shop, Siegler said.
Status: Open for business
– Family-owned welding company that first opened its doors in 1994
– Uses sheet metal and copper to weld anything from custom kitchen equipment to commercial roofing
– Announced plans to move to Hancock County in late 2014
– Built a 12,000-square-foot facility on 2.6 acres of land
– Employs nine workers with an average salary of $50,000
Status: Open for business
– A 63-year-old foam fabricator with five facilities located across the state
– Specializing in cutting polyurethane foam used in products such as children’s toys, bedding, packing and seating
– Announced plans to move to Hancock County in the fall of 2015
– Brought 25 new jobs to the county, each paying an average $26,000 salary
– Built a 60,000-square-foot facility on 10 acres of land
Status: Under construction
– Distributes wholesale novelty products including games, toys and health and beauty products
– Announced plans to relocate in Hancock County in early 2016
– Constructing a 200,000-square-foot building on a 26-acre property
– Will bring 35 jobs, with an average salary of $42,000 a year
– Expects to double the size of its warehouse in the coming years
Status: Under construction
– Indianapolis-based manufacturer that produces specialty packaging for food and other products
– Founded in 1947 and has 55 locations across North America, Europe and Asia
– Transferring 26 employees to Hancock County, whose salaries pay an average of about $86,000 annually
– Building a 100,000-square-foot facility on 6 acres of land
– Broke ground for construction earlier this month