Elanco Animal Health’s decision to invest $300 million to make Indiana its global hub did not happen overnight. And it was not a given that Indiana would get the investment from the Greenfield-based animal health giant. Insiders say the deal was more than a year in the making and that Elanco initially considered five locations, including one in Germany, but it quickly came down to two: Indianapolis and Kansas City, where Elanco and its newly-acquired Bayer Animal Health are key players in a highly-regarded animal science corridor stretching to Kansas State University in Manhattan.

Indiana Secretary of Commerce Jim Schellinger says things may be changing. “We think this actually puts Indiana and Indianapolis as the epicenter of animal health,” said Schellinger, who adds Purdue University was an important player in getting the deal done.

Schellinger talked about the Elanco deal and what it means on this weekend’s edition of Inside Indiana Business with Gerry Dick.

The cornerstone of Elanco’s investment is a 45-acre corporate campus, planned for the former GM stamping plant site along the White River in downtown Indianapolis. The site will be developed as a “walkable, mixed use space” that will represent the first significant expansion of downtown Indianapolis west across the White River.

The city and state will work together to construct a vehicular bridge with bike lanes that will span the river and serve as the main entrance to the campus. There will also be a separate pedestrian bridge.

The site could expand to 65 acres and includes 10 acres of green space that could be part of an expanded White River State Park as well as additional improvements to the riverfront.

“We actually think it’s one of the greatest sites in the nation,” adds Schellinger. “To have 90 acres right there in the heart of the 12th largest city in the country, it’s going to enliven that part of the city.”

Ultimately, the campus could be home to more than 2,000 employees, with average wages far above the state average.  

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Elanco Chief Executive Officer Jeff Simmons said the decision was driven in part by the need for collaboration and innovation in a post-pandemic world.

“We’re a company that needs a campus to tie capabilities together. So as we look at this, we see this as an opportunity to create a lot of efficiency, to centralize a footprint, to create a global capability, and also to tap into a state that has a history of agriculture, biosciences, technology, pharmaceuticals that will be critical as we go forward,” said Simmons.

While the Indy global headquarters is getting much of the attention, it is only part of Elanco’s planned $300 million investment over 10 years, which is expected to have significant impact outside of central Indiana.

The world’s second-largest animal health company says it will maintain and invest in its Indiana manufacturing facilities, including a major operation in Clinton in Vermillion County and also has plans to center its research and development efforts in Indiana.

Schellinger says he expects Elanco’s new headquarters campus to include a presence by Purdue and that Elanco will likely have a significant profile in West Lafayette.

Elanco wants to break ground on the new campus in the first half of 2021 and the project is expected to take 2-3 years to complete.