County council terminates tax-break deal for EnerDel

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Hancock County officials have terminated a tax incentive agreement with EnerDel Inc., the once-heralded battery maker with big plans that since has vacated its facility in the county.

After an initial vote last month to end the deal, the Hancock County Council on Wednesday morning voted 7-0 to remove EnerDel’s tax abatement. Wednesday’s vote took place immediately following a required public hearing on the matter.

EnerDel, a privately-held company founded in 2004, makes lithium-ion batteries and energy storage systems. In 2010, the company received approval for economic development incentives from the state, based on the company’s plans to supply batteries for electric cars and hire as many as 1,400 people for operations in central Indiana.

EnerDel already had agreed to a tax incentive deal from the city of Indianapolis in 2008 on plans to hire nearly 300 people. In January 2010, it announced that it would invest $237 million to lease and equip a building in a Mount Comfort business park in Hancock County, hiring as many as 1,100 workers.

In April 2010, Hancock County granted EnerDel a 10-year abatement worth $30 million in tax savings on personal property – equipment that the company moved into the county, and equipment it planned to purchase, in order to produce the car batteries.

But EnerDel’s business strategy didn’t pan out, and the company filed for bankruptcy protection. The company emerged from bankruptcy in 2012 with a new business strategy.

At one time, EnerDel had 300 employees in Mount Comfort, according to CEO Michael Canada. The company failed to gain traction in the electric passenger-vehicle market, and those numbers dwindled.

“The market never took off,” Canada told IBJ this week.

EnerDel ceased operations in Mount Comfort last year, Canada said. The company now has just 45 U.S. employees, all of whom work at the company’s Indianapolis facility at 8740 Hague Road.

EnerDel does not plan to reopen the Mount Comfort facility. For that reason, Hancock County officials started the process of terminating EnerDel’s economic incentives contract.

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