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City doles out incentives to Defender Direct:

March 3, 2008

The city plans to designate part of an office park near 96th Street and Keystone Avenue as an "economic revitalization area" to provide tax abatements for a local company that sells ADT security systems and Dish Network subscriptions.

The company, Defender Security Co., has pledged to more than triple its Indiana work force-adding more than 1,100 new jobs-over the next 10 years. The state offered the company up to $6 million in tax credits and $345,000 in training grants to create the jobs. Gov. Mitch Daniels and Mayor Greg Ballard announced the deal in January.

The company plans to keep a customer "response center" in its current headquarters at 61st Street and Keystone Avenue and move its headquarters to 31,000 square feet in the Precedent Office Park just north of Interstate 465 and east of Keystone Avenue.

A city incentive package would provide 10-year abatements on the real estate and for personal property worth a total of $300,000. For its part, Defender would add 300 jobs at an average wage of $16.28 per hour and retain 235 positions at the same hourly average. Median hourly wage for the Indianapolis and Carmel area was $14.68 in May 2006, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

A Metropolitan Development Commission hearing on the deal is scheduled for March 5.

Defender has grown from a tiny company run out of a spare bedroom into a direct-sales giant with $80 million in revenue. The company has 400 employees in Indiana and 300 elsewhere.

CEO David Lindsey said he wishes the company had sought incentives five years ago; the company has added about 300 employees since then. Defender sells Dish Network and ADT services mainly through direct mail and newspaper inserts and provides customer service to clients.

Lindsey said state and city economic developers were aggressive about getting the company to stay in Indiana and grow.

"We do business in 40 states, and we did entertain some options in other states," Lindsey said. "The governor's office made sure that they won."

The company is taking space formerly occupied by locally based MJ Insurance, which moved to a new building in the 1-million-square-foot park.

The park, owned by Indianapolis-based HDG Mansur, is about 80 percent occupied, said Rick Trimpe, a vice president for the local office of CB Richard Ellis, which handles leasing. The Defender deal will push its building to 75-percent occupied, up from 22 percent.

A couple of real estate brokers were puzzled by the "economic revitalization area" label but said the incentives make sense. Several large tenants have left the Precedent in favor of new buildings near Meridian Street and Interstate 465.

"I wouldn't say revitalization," said Thomas Hadley, a principal at locally based Summit. "I would say the opportunity for restacking. Whenever there's new construction, there's a flight by the big tenants out there. I commend the city for stepping up. It's a creative way to keep activity going in our marketplace."
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