Minimize Risk, Generate Rewards
It’s a pretty simple recipe for economic development success. Minimize risk and uncertainty for developers, reduce time in the developm
ent process, and increase the probability of landing a project.
You don’t have to look much further than the recent GM announcement in the New Carlisle area to affirm that recipe. Company, State, and Local officials announced last month a $3.5 billion project which will generate 1,600 new jobs on land at SR2 and Larrison Blvd. in western St. Joseph County.
This announcement follows years of site preparation efforts that advanced this shovel ready site to one of the most desirable mega-sites in the Country. And it follows the work from almost 40 years ago when major investments were made in infrastructure in this area to support future large-scale development opportunities.
Site control and zoning were critical for the GM project and to most major projects advancing in the country and eliminated most of the uncertainty on this site related to timing. Too many times a community strategy relies on hope that a landowner might
sell, that a city or county council might vote favorably on a rezoning request, or that the local community will invest in the infrastructure to support such a project.
That strategy rarely works. To have those things in place eliminates a lot of uncertainty that could sideline a project with tight timing deadlines.
In addition to zoning and site control, several environmental and engineering studies were completed which further eliminated any uncertainty about a site for a prospective purchaser. Those efforts garnered controversy and criticism at times, but in the end were instrumental in making this site a preferred site.
That work is like what other states and communities do all the time to try to attract new investment and is like many previous efforts in our area to stimulate development activity, new capital investment, and new jobs.
Think about areas like Blackthorn, Edison Lakes, the Airport Industrial area, or the Twin Branch Industrial Park. In each of those cases, a careful planning effort, site due diligence, and public and private sector involvement led to new development op
portunities for the region. I see the work in the IEC area as a similar effort.
The work at the IEC hasn’t been without controversy. A lot of public meetings have been held through the years, the neighbors have asked hard questions, the County and company have tried to provide clear answers, and in the end, we have a better project because of all that community input.
During the planning for the IEC, residents and community leaders have long sought the right fit for development. Priorities included a company with a strong track record in the communities where they have facilities, a company that is a responsible manufacturer, a proven community partner, and a company with a focus on environmental stewardship and sustainability. GM checks all those boxes.
GM has been a part of Indiana for over 80 years and has invested more than $2.1 billion in Indiana facilities since 2009. GM currently employs more than 6,000 Hoosiers at its four manufacturing facilities - Bedford Castings, Fort Wayne Assembly, Kokomo Components, and Marion Metal Center.
The GM/Samsung EV Battery project is a big win for our region. The proposed investment is one of the largest investments ever announced in Indiana. The County did some great work to prepare this site for development and to elevate the site in the minds of potential developers. Without that work, some other community would be celebrating this win.
The community has learned a lot of lessons throughout this process, lessons we hope will help prepare our community for future development opportunities. I believe the principal takeaway being the critical role site readiness plays attracting new investment. If we minimize the risk and reduce time in the development process, other wins are sure to follow.