What Attracts Businesses to Hamilton County?
By Ann Craig-Cinnamon
If it seems like barely a week goes by that there isn’t an announcement of a new company moving into Hamilton County, it’s not your imagination or much of an exaggeration either.
According to the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, in the last three years, from 2017 through 2019, 93 companies moved here either from outside the state or from within Indiana. That’s an average of almost three per month. This migration translated into almost 10,000 new jobs and an investment of a whopping $850 million over that three year period.
Hamilton County has established itself as having an entrepreneurial climate. It doesn’t hurt that both Carmel and Fishers have won national acclaim several times in recent years, landing in top spots on Money Magazine’s annual list of the best places to live and work in the whole country. Additionally, both cities are aggressive in their approach to luring new business and it has paid off. Noblesville and Westfield have also landed big companies recently. Here’s a sampling.
Stanley Security moved just up the road from Indianapolis to Fishers in 2017. Stanley is a world leader in commercial electronic security with 300,000 customers in North America alone, providing security for high profile retailers, schools, hospitals, airports, governments and more.
Stanley Security President Matthew Kushner says their office on Sunlight Drive in Fishers is now the company’s global headquarters. He says they studied their site options for about a year before making Fishers home. “Having the opportunity to build this state-of-the-art headquarters has provided us a powerful new springboard from which to grow our business and develop the innovative security technologies of the future,” he says adding that access to top technical talent from nearby Rose-Hulman, Purdue University and Indiana University was an important factor.
“We are more than happy with our decision to bring so many of our Indianapolis employees together in one location in Fishers, as this community continues to offer easy access in a great location and a talented workforce,” says Kushner.
Kar Global has been in Hamilton County for decades, but in 2018 recommitted itself by building a new worldwide headquarters in Carmel. Kar describes itself as a technology, analytics and auction company in the global wholesale used vehicle industry. It sold nearly 3.5 million vehicles valued at over $40 billion through its auctions and generated $2.44 billion in revenue in 2018.
There are 900 employees at the Carmel headquarters and 15,000 total, scattered among the company’s 200 operating facilities around the world.
Jim Hallett, KAR Global chairman and CEO, says the city of Carmel and the state of Indiana provided more than $11 million in economic incentives without which the project would not have been possible. He points to Carmel’s business climate, quality of life strategies and low local property taxes as reasons to build the headquarters in the community.
“We have found that Hamilton County fosters a business-friendly environment with a robust talent pipeline from top-notch Indiana colleges and universities. Communities in Hamilton County often appear on “Best Places to Live” lists thanks to great schools, low cost of living, diverse cultural options, a thriving sports and entertainment scene and proximity to nationally-recognized health care providers,” says Hallett, adding that their location along the Meridian Street corridor provides easy access to highways and a 30 minute drive to Indianapolis, which is a benefit as well. “Our employees value working in a community that is also a great place to live,” he says.
When Borg Warner, a global leader in clean and efficient technology solutions for combustion, hybrid and electric vehicles, decided to combine its Anderson and Pendleton technical centers into one central location, Noblesville came out the winner. In June of 2018 Borg Warner officially opened its state-of-the-art 100,000 square foot technical center at 141st and Olio Road.
Borg Warner Power Drive Systems President and General Manager Dr. Stefan Demmerle says his company considered many municipalities for the facility and all showed strong interest. But, he says after reviewing the needs of their current workforce, Noblesville was determined to be the most centrally located. “In addition, Noblesville offered the best mix of infrastructure, amenities, access to a skilled, technical workforce and incentives,” says Dr. Demmerle.
Operating in Indiana since 1963, BraunAbility is the world’s largest manufacturer of wheelchair-
accessible vehicles and lifts with nearly $700 million in revenue as of 2018. When the company decided to open a global center of innovation and Research and Development to support its manufacturing operations in Winamac, Indiana, they chose Carmel and opened its doors at 645 West Carmel Drive in October.
Chris Carlisle, Vice President of Marketing for BraunAbility says the global headquarters were moved to Carmel for better access to transportation infrastructure and talent. “The new headquarters office will help stage our company’s recruiting and retention efforts for the next phase of our journey. Hamilton County met the goals of having a large talent pool that is experienced and diverse,” says Carlisle.
He also credits Hamilton County’s strong, supportive climate for business as a main reason that BraunAbility chose to locate here. “Our early recruitment efforts have been successful and reinforce the decision to move,” he says.
There was celebration in Westfield recently when it was announced that global medical device maker and healthcare giant Abbott Laboratories would invest $37.6 million in a new facility here. The 120,000 square foot facility should be operational by 2021, employing 450 people, and will manufacture Abbott’s MitraClip mitral valve repair system, which the company describes as a key, first-of-its-kind product within Abbott’s cardiovascular product portfolio.
Abbott says Westfield was chosen because it offers a central location to manufacture and distribute MitraClip that will help the company optimize the product's availability both in the U.S. and abroad.
In November 2018, Fishers became the headquarters of CEDIA, an international trade association for companies that design, manufacture, and install technology in the home. It is the only certifying organization in the home technology industry and has called Indiana home for 30 years from a leased property on the West side of Indianapolis.
CEDIA CEO and President Tabatha O’Connor says the site selection process began in late 2015. After previewing sites around Indianapolis and surrounding areas, Fishers was chosen for both location and parcel size. She says they are very happy with the decision. “There is an incredible energy around the business community. We look forward to seeing what other companies join us in the years to come.”
An increase in jobs is one of the biggest indications of economic health and of new business moving to an area. According to Carol Sergi, the Director of Workforce Strategy with the Hamilton County Economic Development Corporation, jobs were up above the national average over the past 5 years. “From 2013 to 2018 jobs in Hamilton County increased 17.4% reflecting the continued interest in companies finding this a great place to bring or grow their companies. This is over a 10% increase in the national average, emphasizing the need to attract a talented workforce to Hamilton County to fill those positions.”