The Carroll County Economic Development Corp. this week announced an effort to create an economic development strategy for the Hoosier Heartland Industrial Park (HHIP) near Delphi. The organization is partnering with commercial real estate firm 92c Partners and advisory firm Katz Sapper and Miller (KSM), both based in Indianapolis, to develop the strategy for the 60-acre park that has struggled to attract businesses for the last several years.
“I think we’ve really struggled a little bit with the identity of what we wanted the industrial park to look like from an employer standpoint, what businesses we were going to attract,” said Jake Adams, executive director of the Carroll County EDC. “That really has created the conversation and a renewed focus on who our partners are going to be to help us identify that.”
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Adams said finding the right companies is less about industry and more about finding a good, community-minded employer.
“It’s not about chasing smokestacks. It’s not about jobs in a box. It’s about finding employers that fit our community and want to be in a community that embraces them as well,” Adams said. “We’re trying to be smart in how we are trying to attract these employers, and we know that they should be right sized for our community and the right partner that’s going to be embraced.”
The HHIP, Adams said, has been fully built for about seven years following the creation of State Road 25, also known as the Hoosier Heartland Highway.
One lot of the industrial park is operated by energy cooperative Carroll White REMC, but the rest of the property is ready for development. The EDC says the industrial park is certified “shovel ready.”
Adams said the initial question from the partners was why the site hasn’t already been sold.
“Whey are we – five, six seven years later – do we still have lots? How can we meet those challenges and what can we change,” said Adams. “We’ve been able to identify some of those nuances, infrastructure being one of them when it comes to having a four-lane highway directly accessing the park. [We’re] working on water and wastewater capacity. We are trying to control those controllables.”
The EDC says 92c Partners will work to promote the logistical advantages of the industrial park in addition to the labor pool in the surrounding counties.
Meanwhile, KSM will assist the EDC in creating an economic development strategy to help attract businesses and retain existing businesses.
Adams says efforts to promote the industrial park will accelerate over the next two years. However, the county has already done some pre-emptive work to address certain challenges that normally would hinder business attraction.
“Our community has been focused on key attributes like broadband and housing…because those are the things companies are asking for. ‘How much connectivity you got? Where are you going to put my workers?’ Adams said. “We feel like we’ve done a very good job of addressing those two main areas of concern, and now we have to leverage our current assets that we do have built.”
Adams says the county also wants to be a good steward for its neighbors.
Tippecanoe and Howard counties are seeing major investments such as plans from automaker Stellantis (NYSE: STLA) and Samsung SDI to invest $2.5 billion to build an electric vehicle battery facility in Kokomo and create 1,400 jobs, as well as Minnesota-based SkyWater Technology (Nasdaq: SKYT) investing $1.8 billion to create a semiconductor R&D and production facility in West Lafayette and adding 750 jobs.
“[Those projects] are just more reasons why we have to push the gas in supporting the industry clusters that are around us right now,” said Adams. “We want to use our resources to be able to support that industry.”
You can learn more about the Hoosier Heartland Industrial Park by clicking here.