The Herald Bulletin

March 27, 2011

I-69 provides versatility for county businesses

By Sam Brattain
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — Travel north on Interstate 69 and you’re sure to pass a diverse offering of exits. There’s the Hamilton Town Center mall off Exit 10, a developing residential area off Exit 14 and a growing business park off Exit 22.

“Part of what we market is the flexibility for transportation and production. The uniqueness of our city and what we offer as a community,” said Rob Sparks, president of the Anderson Corporation for Economic Development.

Only 22 miles from Indianapolis’ I-465 beltway, Anderson is a logistical dream for companies that can’t find or can’t afford property downtown.

“There are a lot of options from a transportation standpoint,” said Sparks.

Sparks said the interstate is the “life blood” for the Madison County economy, and he is encouraged by the amount of projects that are in the works. Many of those projects are existing businesses that are expanding, such as the Red Gold plant in Orestes, Nestle and Owens-Brockway in Lapel.

“Companies are expanding in order to meet their customers’ needs; whenever that happens it’s a good sign,” said Sparks.

Linda Dawson, director of Anderson Economic Development, said she is getting a “considerable” amount of interest in the business park off Exit 22. She is currently working with three companies that are all on their second visit.

Dawson said the primary factors businesses want to locate along 1-69 are convenience and visibility.

“Businesses off Exits 22 and 26 tend to thrive due to the regional draw,” said Dawson.

Poblanos, a Mexican restaurant, opened for business March 10 off Exit 26. Owner Tony Kouskousakis said he’s lucky he found the location because it is close to Hoosier Park Racing & Casino and a shopping center. The restaurant is taking over the building that used to occupy Grindstone Charlie’s, which closed in 2006. However, Kouskousakis is not concerned about the previous tenant’s failure.

“I think the franchise as a whole was going out. I’m hopeful that the community will come out to support us,” said Kouskousakis.

Kouskousakis operates two other restaurants in northern Indiana, and he believes the Anderson Poblano’s has a good chance to have the highest amount of traffic among them.

Residential growth is occurring off Exit 14 in Summerlake. Developer D.B. Mann is advertising 844 single-family units and 350 multi-family units. According to its website, the purpose of the project is to provide “innovative mixed use development.”

Green Township trustee Greg Valentine said he is not a fan of the proposed development because it will provide low-income housing. While he admits it will give the township a larger tax base, he worries that low-income housing won’t generate enough taxes to pay for the energy it uses.

“We’re helping folks with low-energy assistance, and we have more than we can handle now,” said Valentine.

According to Valentine, what the area really needs is industrial development so that more jobs are created.

That development is coming to Ingalls in the form of General Truck, a semi and motor home dealership that also provides repair services. Ingalls Town Council President Doug Dowden said the company recently purchased 15 acres from D.B. Mann, and that it is in the early stages of planning.

“They were looking for something along the I-69 corridor because of the eye appeal and the ability to move things,” said Dowden.

Dowden said companies are interested in locating north of Hamilton County because the tax rate is lower and all the space in Hamilton is “pretty well locked up.” He is hopeful for the future of Ingall’s economy.

“I think the area is going to develop really quickly,” said Dowden.

Contact Sam Brattain at 640-4883, sam.brattain@heraldbulletin.com