Artist rendering of Elanco Animal Health’s new headquarters. (provided)

Executives from Elanco Animal Health Inc. (NYSE: ELAN), along with Governor Eric Holcomb and Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers, tossed a ceremonial shovel of dirt Tuesday, officially launching construction of Elanco’s $100 million global headquarters on the near west side of Indianapolis. The animal health company announced in December it will relocate from Greenfield and build its facility on 45 acres of the former GM Stamping plant. The company says the project is not only about building new office space but also creating a state-of-the art innovation center and business incubator for Indiana’s growing agbioscience sector.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Elanco President and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Simmons said the project will help turn Indy into a global animal health epicenter.

“Elanco is one of the only independent companies that can reach the world’s animals and up to 100 countries. And we can actually bring innovators and partners here that can actually enable their innovation and their ideas to reach the world’s animals. That’s the epicenter,” said Simmons.

The 220,000-square-foot headquarters will include a six-story structure and other buildings on the west side of the White River. Plans include for Elanco greenspace to join an expanding White River State Park. Simmons says the project is also about pushing the “heart of downtown” onto the west side and serving as a catalyst for the community.

“It’s not about the building. This is not about a facility. It is a movement,” said Simmons. “We’re talking about ‘building’ as a verb, not a noun. We’re building paths to connect Indianapolis’ historic west side with its center.”

Part of that movement includes a renaissance on a side of the city that lost a major employer more than a decade ago. The last worker at the GM Stamping plant walked out the large manufacturing shell in June 2011. At one point, it employed 5,500 workers.

“It will represent a rebirth of this site, a manufacturing powerhouse,” said Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett. “This site that goes back nearly 100 years. And it will represent…the start of a brand-new day for our city’s near west side.”

Elanco says part of the remaining ironworks will be included in the project, enclosing it with glass and creating a space for community events.

Elanco’s new headquarters will offer this view of the city skyline. (IIB photo/Wes Mills)

“We’re excited about the state and the city’s vision to push downtown west, change the skyline of Indianapolis, expand the heart of downtown west, connecting The Valley with the [Monument] circle,” said Simmons.

The state says the remainder of the 91-acre industrial site will also be developed in the form of walkable, mixed-use space.

“Days like today prove that Indiana’s investments in infrastructure, talent development, communities and quality of place are cultivating an ecosystem that enables innovators like Elanco to grow and thrive, bringing their biggest, most ambitious ideas to life,” said Holcomb. “Today we broke ground on not just a building, but on an exciting future – one filled with opportunities for innovators, talent and communities in Indiana – and one where leading-edge discoveries will be made in the years ahead.”