Angie’s List to withdraw expansion due to Religious Freedom bill passage

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 28, 2015) -- Big developments following the signing of Indiana's controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Indianapolis-based Angie's list is freezing the planned expansion  of its east side headquarters. The CEO of Angie's list, Bill Oesterle, says the new law would hurt their capability to expand. Angie's list has made a number of strong efforts to get the entire city council's approval to use more than $18 million in taxpayer money as part of the expansion. In fact, the council was going to vote on it on Monday.

The company had planned to move in to the defunct Ford plant on East Washington Street, give it a massive facelift and transform it in to a stunning new part of the already expansive campus the company has. What's stunning now is what Oesterle said during a news conference Saturday.

"We have made a decision that we are going to withdraw our application for tax abatement," he said

The headquarters project has been in the works for several years, but the Religious Freedom Restoration Act prompted Angie's list to rethink the expansion proposal.

"This is a project that we've been pursuing directly as an attempt to stay in this part of the neighborhood," Oesterle said.

Angie's list wants to expand and add 1,000 over a course of five years, however, they feel they can't now with this bill in place. It's a bill they view as unnecessary.

"It has nothing to do with creating jobs, it has nothing to do with eduating children, it has nothing to do with attracting talent to the state of Indiana," Oesterle said.

John Barth, Vice President for Indianapolis City-County Council says Angie's list has helped improve the near east side which doesn't have a lot of economic development. Barth says there's a transformation going on.

"Turning the tide on crime, bringing new business, bringing new residents. That's exactly what needs to be happening in Indianapolis," Barth said. "To see that fade away because of actions that the General Assembly has taken is a serious problem for the future of our city."

The City-County Council will vote, Monday, to adopt Resolution 120. Councilor Barth says it tells the General Assembly that the law is bad for Indianapolis and the economy. They want the state to reverse it and add sexual orientation to the state civil rights ordinances to ensure Hoosiers are protected.

The expansion proposal may be off the table, but communication with the city is not. Angie's list says in the days and weeks ahead they'll have a dialogue with about what can be done and what ideas there are for making sure they have a central headquarters that stays on the east side.


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