IEDC using helicopters to show off ‘mega-sites’ for Indy 500 weekend
The Indiana Economic Development Corp. is rolling out the red carpet for potential users of two “mega-sites” in central Indiana as part of a strategy centered on the pageantry of the Indianapolis 500.
The quasi-government agency’s strategy—aside from entertaining prospective businesses during the race itself—kicked off Thursday with dinner at Bluebeard in downtown Indianapolis and includes events throughout Friday with an stop in the morning at Crane Bay Event Center, festivities at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Carb Day, and an aerial tour of two major state-owned development sites.
The aerial tours, which will utilize the Downtown Indianapolis Heliport, will offer views of the 11,000-acre LEAP district in Lebanon, where Eli Lilly and Co. is investing $3.7 billion on a major manufacturing complex; and the 100-acre former General Motors stamping plant site on the west side of downtown Indianapolis, where Elanco Animal Health Inc. is building its $150 million headquarters. LEAP is an acronym for “Limited Exploration/Advanced Pace.”
In a partial itinerary of the plans for the weekend, the IEDC indicates the aerial tour would consist of views of downtown Indianapolis, including Monument Circle and Lucas Oil Stadium, as well as Newfields, LEAP Lebanon and Xcel Indy, a name the organization said it is workshopping for the GM stamping plant site.
Details of the group’s plans for entertaining guests on Saturday and Sunday weren’t immediately available. But Mark Wasky, the IEDC’s senior vice president of community affairs, said in a statement that the Indianapolis 500-adjacent strategy continues longstanding efforts to bring in potential clients in conjunction with major sporting events.
“As we’ve done for years, the IEDC boldly promotes the state of Indiana locally and around the world, and race weekend is a great opportunity to bring in site selectors and prospective partners for that purpose,” he said.
IEDC has a two-level suite inside the Pagoda at IMS that can accommodate up to 250 people. Dozens of organizations also use suites at IMS to build relationships and make business pitches.
An IEDC spokesperson declined to share how many companies plan to attend race-weekend events through the agency, but said “prospective businesses account for tens of billions [of dollars] in potential development in the state, spanning the future-focused industries we are focused on.”
Wasky said that, despite the marketing for race weekend being specifically tied to Xcel Indy, the moniker for the stamping plant site is still being workshopped and “nothing has been finalized.”
“We continue to evaluate ways to name, brand and market the former GM stamping plant site as an innovation, research and development campus,” Wasky said. “We want to bring investment to the community in support of and in partnership with the surrounding neighborhood. Before any names are solidified, we’re going to work with and solicit feedback from those partners to ensure all groups are in alignment.”
The state has had control of the land surrounding Elanco’s campus for more than two years, with plans to bring infill development to the project. Wasky previously told IBJ that there’s a possibility portions of the site could be designated as an Innovation Development District, much like what the state is doing with the Eli Lilly portion of the LEAP Lebanon area, adding that discussions to that end are underway.
An IDD would unlock a new tax-increment financing-like tool for the state to deploy as an incentive. Those districts capture state income tax, local income tax, sales tax and incremental property taxes generated by the district that go above the base rates. However, unlike TIF districts, the state would control most of the money, with a small portion going back to local municipalities.
The stamping plant site is “one of those areas of the state that [IEDC does] have ownership and control over over, and we are trying to be very intentional in identifying and attracting new investment to this site, having infrastructure in place and sites prepared for the next investment that could take place following Elanco’s commitment,” Wasky said.
In a statement, the city of Indianapolis said it continues to work with the IEDC and residents of the Valley and West Indy neighborhoods to determine the best uses for land in the district. This month, the city released the White River Innovation District’s infrastructure bid package, including a multimodal bridge connecting the west side of the river to downtown.