Lilly seeks $30.6M in tax breaks on downtown projects

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Eli Lilly and Co. wants the city of Indianapolis to give it more than $30 million in tax breaks on $400 million in projects that include a new manufacturing facility and improvements to existing operations downtown.
The Metropolitan Development Commission will weigh two Lilly requests for 10-year tax abatements totaling $30.6 million at its meeting at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Over the last several months, the pharmaceuticals giant has rolled out plans for a manufacturing plant southwest of downtown Indianapolis where the firm will manufacture cartridges for insulin.  

Construction is already under way for the 164,000-square-foot plant on South Harding Street, adjoining Lilly’s existing manufacturing complex known as Lilly Technology Center.

Lilly’s investment in the project is estimated at $320 million. In addition, it is planning a new inspection facility that will add another 30,000 square feet to the project, plus renovations to existing buildings on the Lilly Technology Center campus and to the Lilly Corporate Center. In total, Lilly’s investment is expected to reach $400 million.

As a result of the project, the firm said it will be able to retain 175 Indianapolis employees who will earn an average of $30.96 per hour, according to the abatement requests. Contrary to the request, Lilly spokesman Ed Sagebiel told IBJ the project would involve a combination of existing employees and new workers.

Lilly’s first request is for a 10-year abatement on $133 million in construction and renovations, which would create a real property tax savings of $13.8 million for the firm.

The other request focuses on $267 million in new equipment related to the new operations. The equipment would include cartridge filling and packaging lines, logistics equipment and a backup power supply. The personal property tax abatement would create a savings of $16.8 million for Lilly over 10 years.

Over the 10-year period of the two abatements, Lilly still would pay $25.4 million in taxes on the new construction, renovations and equipment. Once the abatement is over, the firm is expected to pay about $5.2 million in taxes annually on those items.

City development staff has recommended that the commission approve the abatements.

“In staff’s opinion, a project such as this would not be economically feasible without the tax abatement incentive,” according to a staff report to the commission. “Staff believes that the use of tax abatement is an appropriate tool to assist with this project and support continued development within Marion County.”

If the requests are given preliminary approval by the MDC on Wednesday, a public hearing and final approval will be scheduled for the MDC’s meeting on May 1.


  • Let them have it
    I know the title may sound crazy and central Indiana residents hate corporate incentives but this is the point where hoosiers need to really stop and think. Lilly pours a LOT into this state especially through the Lilly Endowment. Through the endowment, they (lilly) has given more than what they are asking for in return (a lot more). All 92 counties benefit from the endowment and people within those counties. Talk about their business, p/l or whatever but the fact remains Lilly has been the pinnacle of corporate citizen.
  • Indy is Lilly
    I am against corporate greed as much as the next person (to the extent I think corporate campaign contributions ought to be illegal---Separation of Corp and State!!, and C-Level salaries ought to be capped at 65 x's average employee wages---as that was the ratio at GM in the 1960s, not the insane 360 x's and more it is now), I digress, but if you want to make the south side grow, you give Lilly everything tax break you can. They are in a brutal industry, and I am sorry, but for all the Eli Lilly haters out there, the unfortuate truth is, as goes Lilly so goes the south side of Indy. You help Lilly as if they were one of your kids is the advice I would give. Don't spoil them, but for goodness sakes, don't get stingy when they are in a growing phase.
  • kinda late!
    Lilly broke ground on this project over a year ago and now, they are asking for an abatement. And city development does not consider this before saying "In staff’s opinion, a project such as this would not be economically feasible without the tax abatement incentive,” Project was already started and the city is arguing that this project would not be done without a tax abatement. Bad behaviour on both the city and Lilly's part.

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  1. Great article and post scripts by Mike L (Great addition to IBJ BTW). Bobby's stubborn as a mule, and doubt if he ever comes back to IU. But the love he would receive would be enormous. Hope he shows some time, but not counting on it.

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  4. Jim, your "misleading" numbers comment is spot on. This is the spin these posers are putting on it. News flash, fans: these guys lie. They are not publicly traded so no one holds them accountable for anything they say. The TV numbers are so miniscule to begin with any "increase" produces double digit "growth" numbers. It's ridiculous to think that anything these guys have done has awakened the marketplace. What have they done? Consolidate the season so they run more races on consecutive weekends? And this creates "momentum." Is that the same momentum you enjoy when you don't race between August and March? Keep in mind that you are running teams who barely make ends meet ragged over the summer to accomplish this brilliant strategy of avoiding the NFL while you run your season finale at midnight on the East Coast. But I should not obfuscate my own point: any "ratings increase" is exactly what Jim points to - the increased availability of NBC Sports in households. Look fans, I love the sport to but these posers are running it off a cliff. Miles wants to declare victory and then run for Mayor. I could go on and on but bottom line for God's sake don't believe a word they say. Note to Anthony - try doing just a little research instead of reporting what these pretenders say and then offering an "opinion" no more informed than the average fan.

  5. If he's finally planning to do the right thing and resign, why not do it before the election? Waiting until after means what - s special election at tax payer expense? Appointment (by whom?) thus robbing the voters of their chance to choose? Does he accrue some additional financial advantage to waiting, like extra pension payments? What's in it for him? That's the question that needs to be asked.