EnerDel hopes to hire 1,100 at new manufacturing plant

January 21, 2010

Fast-growing lithium battery-maker EnerDel will announce plans Thursday afternoon to hire 1,100 people over the next five years at a new Hancock County manufacturing plant in a Mount Comfort business park just north of Interstate 70.

EnerDel will receive government incentives worth $53.1 million in exchange for its expansion commitment. Hancock County will provide $30 million in incentives, primarily in the form of tax abatements. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. will kick in another $21.3 million in performance-based incentives.

The average wage for EnerDel’s new jobs is expected to be $18.50 per hour.

“It truly is a poster child for how an economic development project like this plays out,” said Dennis Maloy, executive director of the Hancock Economic Development Council. “We think they’ll be a great corporate citizen for Hancock County. We’re looking forward to a long relationship.”

Gov. Mitch Daniels is scheduled to be on hand for EnerDel’s 1 p.m. press conference. It’s an announcement that’s been in the works for at least six months.

Last July, Maloy said, IEDC project manager Todd Cook contacted him to arrange a meeting with EnerDel, which was already well along in the process of site selection for a new plant. The company had begun scouring central Indiana, particularly Marion and Hamilton counties, Maloy said, as well as potential sites in Michigan. Locally, Mark Writt, senior vice president of Los Angeles-based CB Richard Ellis, represented EnerDel in its search.

EnerDel was attracted to the Mount Comfort site, Maloy said, because it’s “shovel ready” and then some. Last September, Browning Inc. completed construction on a pair of brand-new buildings there designed for light manufacturing or distribution. EnerDel chose the larger of the two, a 423,000-square-foot facility with multiple back doors and cross-docking. Maloy said the other, at 250,000 square feet, is under consideration by several other possible tenants. There are also about 75 acres behind the buildings that could accommodate another facility of up to 1 million square feet.

Prior to construction, Browning had secured 10-year tax abatements on both buildings, Maloy said. Hancock County also has agreed to offer further abatements on EnerDel’s equipment. He said the company expects to spend $277 million to get the plant running. EnerDel is seeking a $480 million federal loan from the Department of Energy to underwrite expansion. Heavy manufacturing at the site requires a zoning variance, but Maloy considers that a formality.

Maloy said he isn’t sure what sealed the deal for Hancock County, but expects EnerDel’s decision mainly came down to cost analysis and the flexibility of Browning’s new building. He pointed out that Hancock County has established a tax-increment financing, or TIF District, for the area, allowing it to capture taxes that will be used initially to expand both Mount Comfort Road and County Road 300 to four lanes.

“It’s a big win for Hancock County,” Maloy said. “It’s our mission here at the Hancock Economic Development Council to attract and retain high-value jobs. These certainly fall into the category.”

EnerDel, a subsidiary of New York-based Ener1, is a startup maker of battery packs for electric vehicles and other uses. It has grown from 41 employees a year ago to 180 today. The company had already received tax incentives and announced plans to create 400 jobs at its current locations in Indianapolis and Noblesville by 2012.


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