Sign maker AI Innovations moved to Fishers this year to work with a promising startup that landed an economic development deal to produce uber-efficient lighting technology.
But VoxLumen Corp. fizzled before it could collect the $800,000 the town pledged to the project, and officials notified the firm about a month ago that the offer is off the table.
Now the Fishers Town Council is set to consider a new agreement with the sign company, which expects to more than double its work force and invest $6 million on equipment by 2019.
Founded in 1999 as Awning Innovations, the company has 105 employees now and plans to add 133 positions paying almost $29 an hour, according to a project summary prepared for the council.
The proposed deal calls for a five-year tax abatement on the equipment, worth a total of about $235,000.
AI Innovations, in turn, would sign a long-term lease for the former Diamond Foods facility at 11899 Exit Five Parkway. The 160,000-square-foot building had been vacant since California-based Diamond Foods closed its 100-employee plant in early 2013.
Business has been strong since the wholesale sign manufacturer moved from Mount Comfort early this year. Town Manager Scott Fadness said economic development leaders are eager to nurture thriving businesses like AI Innovations.
“They’ve got a pretty aggressive growth plan, and they want to do it here,” he said.
VoxLumen had just two employees when it struck the deal with Fishers in January. But the plans fell apart as Colorado-based sister company Lumiere Industries was embroiled in a dispute over who owned the patent for the lighting technology.
“It got really messy,” Fadness said. Although the VoxLumen project failed to live up to its potential, the town nevertheless benefitted by attracting AI Innovations, he added. “That’s the silver lining.”