IEDC’s funding requests for major LEAP District projects approved

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The Indiana Economic Development Corp. received the green light Thursday to spend $122 million to purchase roughly 1,000 acres of land as part of an incentive package to lure a global semiconductor manufacturer to central Indiana.

State officials testified before the State Budget Committee to make the case for paying roughly $120,000 an acre for mostly farmland in rural Boone County to entice an undisclosed company deciding between Indiana and another Midwestern state for a $50 billion semiconductor plant.

The money is coming from a $500 million deal closing fund that was approved by state lawmakers in this year’s budget.

The land is in the southwest corner of the LEAP District, a planned 9,000-acre advanced manufacturing hub north and west of Lebanon along Interstate 65, according to state officials. LEAP is an acronym for “Limitless Exploration/Advanced Pace.”

If the company decides against Indiana’s deal, the IEDC would either pursue another company or transfer the money into a revolving fund that could be used to purchase land in other parts of the state for other economic development projects, said David Rosenberg, IEDC’s chief operating officer.

Eli Lilly and Co. will serve as the anchor tenant for the Leap District, investing $3.7 billion into a drug manufacturing facility that is expected to result in nearly 700 new jobs.

Democratic lawmakers expressed reservations about the amount of water it would take to support the district and the risks involved with a massive land deal that could fall through if the company decides to locate its plant elsewhere.

“If that transaction doesn’t go forward, you have a significant amount of capital in a place that you chose for a particular reason,” said Rep. Ed Delaney, a Democrat from Indianapolis.

Rosenberg said several companies have expressed interest in the LEAP District.

“With what we know in the pipeline, we are extremely confident that parcel will be put into good use in these economies of the future that reflect what we’re trying to do at LEAP,” Rosenberg told lawmakers.

Citizens Energy Group has agreed to supply the LEAP District with 6 million gallons of water per day by 2026 and 10 million gallons per day by 2027, although that number could be increased to 20 million gallons per day, Rosenberg said. That project, which would require infrastructure upgrades and 33 miles of new pipeline, is expected to cost $200 million.

But 20 million gallons a day still wouldn’t be enough water to support the scale of advanced manufacturing IEDC officials are hoping for, experts say.

That’s why the IEDC commissioned engineering and design studies to explore tapping into a Wabash River aquifer and transporting as much as 100 million gallons of water per day to the Boone County. The water would then be treated and piped into a tributary of the White River or the Eagle Creek Reservoir.

“The Wabash Alluvial Aquifer is replenished by the Great Lakes, so as long as there’s water in the Great Lakes, there will be water in this aquifer,” Rosenberg said.

Preliminary results from the engineering studies should be completed in the next month or two, he added.

The committee also approved the IEDC’s request for $35 million in performance-based grants for an electric vehicle battery manufacturing operation locating in St. Joseph County; $10 million in grants to General Motors for their $632 million investments in its Fort Wayne Assembly plant; $16 million to acquire 290 acres of property in the LEAP District for a potential $3.2 billion data center; and $20.2 million to acquire 220 acres in Boone County for an INDOT interchange and upgrades to local roadway infrastructure in support of Eli Lilly’s planned expansion.

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7 thoughts on “IEDC’s funding requests for major LEAP District projects approved

    1. You are correct about the northeasterly flow of the Saint Lawrence River (beginning at Lake Ontario) to the Atlantic Ocean. The Wabash River aquifer receives most of its water from the drainage of Ohio farm fields. Purdue University is a major consumer of water from the aquifer, pumped from nine wells, each producing approximately 600,000 to 700,000 gallons per day.

  1. Why not make the land acquisition contingent on getting the end user signed and all other issues such as engineering/water accounted for? At $120,000/acre I would guess the farmer that owns the land currently wouldn’t have a problem agreeing to this.