INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana lawmakers have created a new tool to try to bring more businesses to Indiana.
Senate Enrolled Act 361 allows the state to create “innovation development districts.” These districts capture some tax revenues that stay within the district to fund new development, explained Mark Wasky, senior vice president of community affairs for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.
One of those new districts may be located in western Boone County, according to state and local officials.
“This land is primed for that type of new development to come in,” said Chassity Neckers of the Boone County Economic Development Corporation.
According to Wasky, the state is in talks with landowners about potentially purchasing 4,000 to 7,000 acres of land along Interstate 65, west of Lebanon. The state has received interest in Boone County from businesses, Wasky added, but it’s unknown what new development could be built on that land.
“Right off of I-65, which is one of the reasons why Boone County has been growing, is our proximity to Lafayette, up to Chicago, down into Indy,” Neckers said of the land the state may try to purchase.
One option for the land is turning it into an innovation development district, Neckers and Wasky said.
“I would say that what it allows us to do is work with a certain level of speed as well as flexibility,” Wasky said.
Some have raised concerns about local control within these districts. Wasky points local revenues stay within the community, describing the districts as forms of partnership between state and local governments.
Earlier this week, Gov. Eric Holcomb said he believes the economic development options lawmakers approved this session will help make the state more competitive for new business facilities.
“We’re in an unprecedented position to compete for some of the biggest projects in the world,” Holcomb said. “And we have to be ready to do that.”
The state has not selected any areas yet to officially become innovation development districts, Wasky said.
Some residents have concerns about a potential redevelopment project in Boone County. An online petition calling for the farmland to be saved has received more than 1,500 signatures as of Friday afternoon.