The executive director of the Central Indiana Regional Transportation Authority says businesses in the town of Plainfield are supporting a newly-created Economic Improvement District aimed giving out-of-town employees an option for getting to and from work. Lori Kaplan says the EID, which was approved by the Plainfield Town Council, will fund the South Plainfield Connector shuttle, which brings workers in Indianapolis to warehouse and distribution work sites in the area.
CIRTA says property owners in the district, which covers 3,442 square acres south of U.S. 40 in Plainfield, petitioned the council to form the EID. Kaplan says about 70 percent of property owners signed the voluntary petition, including Duke Realty, Clarion Partners, Prologis and Meritex. The property owners, which in this case only include businesses and not residents, will pay into a fund to cover the cost of the shuttle.
Kaplan tells Inside INdiana Business the warehouse and distribution centers, both north and south of U.S. 40, have struggled to remain fully staffed.
"About 50 percent of their work force comes from outside of Plainfield and transportation is a huge issue for a lot of people," said Kaplan. "So this allows people who live in the Indianapolis area to take IndyGo to the west side of Indianapolis, transfer to the connector, which then takes them to the business parks where there are a lot of job openings."
CIRTA says there are more than 15,000 jobs in the designated district. The organization cites a survey conducted by the Hendricks County Economic Development Partnership in 2015 which estimated 2,400 of those jobs were unfilled.
Kaplan says the owners of the business parks in the area are using the transportation service as an economic development tool to attract potential tenants. She calls the EID a unique opportunity for the area.
"The south Plainfield distribution center is so densely populated with businesses. There is a high number of jobs within a relatively small area, it really lended itself well to forming an Economic Improvement District," said Kaplan."It’s a tool that we’re going to look to implement in other areas but what makes this unique is the area is strictly business commercial and the people using the public transit are using it strictly to get to and from work."
The South Plainfield Connector was established in 2012 through a federal demonstration grant, which lasted for three years. CIRTA and the town of Plainfield are currently funding the service through mid-2017. Kaplan says the EID will begin funding the service in July and funding will continue for three years, at which point the EID will be up for renewal.
The town also has the North Plainfield Connector, which began in 2015 through the federal grant and funding will continue through 2018. You can learn more about the Plainfield connectors by clicking here.
Kaplan says the connector service has served as a benefit for area developers and businesses.