Rolls-Royce employees begin move to downtown campus

Rolls-Royce Corp. began moving some of its employees to its new downtown office building on Monday—a shift an IUPUI analyst projected could generate $510 million in annual economic activity.

About 400 of the employees will be moved into the facility, dubbed the Rolls-Royce Meridian Center, by late January. The remaining 2,100 are expected to settle in by midyear, bringing the total number in the campus on South Meridian Street to 2,500.

The London-based aircraft-engine maker, which employs about 4,000 in the Indianapolis area, announced in March its plans to move office employees from two buildings on Tibbs Avenue, on Indianapolis' west side, to a downtown campus formerly occupied by Eli Lilly and Co. That allows Rolls-Royce to tear down those Tibbs Avenue office buildings and make improvements to nearby manufacturing sites on Tibbs.

City officials are in the process of reviewing a $23 million, 10-year tax abatement for Rolls-Royce, based on the number of retained jobs and investment in both its downtown and west-side properties. The company plans to invest $22 million to upgrade the downtown property and another $190 million to upgrade the Tibbs Avenue plant.

The City-County Council and its economic development committee have approved the abatement. The Indianapolis Metropolitan Development Commission will review it Wednesday to decide whether it should receive final approval.

Some members of the council initially critiqued the abatements because the deals don’t entail new jobs. But company officials have touted the economic development benefits of the move and consolidation effort and the 4,150 jobs the company says will be retained because of it.

A study presented to the council’s Economic Development Committee this month by IUPUI senior policy analyst Drew J. Klacik projected $510 million of economic activity would be generated from Rolls-Royce’s downtown move. An estimated $165 million of that is employee wages at an average salary of $76,000. 

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