Things are Taking Off at IND

Things are Taking Off at IND

For the last six consecutive years, the Indianapolis International Airport (IND) has been deemed the best airport in North America by Airports Council International. That’s a huge distinction for the largest air transit facility in the Hoosier state, and so far this year it definitely seems like things are only poised to get even better.

There’s been a lot of development activity taking place in and around IND lately, coming from both private entities and public ones. Part of all this activity originates from the airport’s land use initiative, which was put into place several years ago. Under that plan, more than 3,200 acres of IAA property will be available for development, redevelopment, and recreational use and is expected to significantly increase tax revenue. Current estimates put the potential figure at around $1.7 million in annual land tax dollars in addition to whatever tax revenue is created after development occurs.

Also, private firms are taking advantage of the airport’s prime location to establish new facilities and beef up their existing ones, both within the airport and in the surrounding areas.

It’s certainly an exciting time for IND and for the state overall. Let’s take a look at all the biggest announcements that have taken flight recently.

 

1,000 New Jobs at New Tech Hub by the Airport

InfoSys campus rendering.

Perhaps the biggest development happening near IND currently, in economic terms, is the commitment Infosys (NYSE: INFY) has made with its plans to establish a new U.S. Education Center at the location of the former Indianapolis airport terminal. Along with the new facility, the company plans to add some 1,000 new employees, bringing its total number of workers to roughly 3,000 by 2023.

Infosys is a global consulting and next-generation technology firm. Its main reason for establishing the new education center is to equip its U.S. workforce with 21st century skills.

Initially, the company plans to redevelop 70.5 acres, with an option to double that footprint in the future, at the intersection of Sam Jones Expressway and South High School Road. The new state-of-the-art training center will feature environmentally sustainable buildings and green spaces. The project, which will be developed in multiple phases over the next several years, is expected to expand into a $245 million, 141-acre, 786,000-square-foot campus. Infosys’ vision for the finished site includes regeneration of the area to feature walkways, outdoor spaces and recreational facilities.

InfoSys campus rendering.

“This project is a prime example of the airport’s commitment to delivering public value to the community,” said Mario Rodriguez, Indianapolis Airport Authority executive director.

Infosys will initially be investing $35 million to acquire the land and build out the first 125,000 square feet of what will comprise the training center and a 250-person residential facility. The company plans to break ground on the first phase before the end of 2018 and anticipates its completion by the end of 2020.

Indiana offered Infosys a serious incentive package to entice the company to build here. Several state, local, and airport entities are supporting the project, including the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, the Indianapolis Airport Authority Board, the Metropolitan Development Commission, and Indianapolis City County Council. Among the most significant benefits offered to the company are:

  • $56.5 million in conditional tax credits;
  • $1.5 million in training grants
  • Up to $6 million in conditional tax credits from the Hoosier Business Investment program (in support of the capital investment plans)
  • The rehabilitation and transfer of an existing 2,000-car parking garage
  • $8 million in infrastructure improvements
  • Up to $9.8 million in real estate improvements

Initial training programs at the new campus will combine classroom-based and immersive, real-world learning focused on key competencies such as user experience, cloud, big data, and core technology and computer science skills.

“Our new Indianapolis facility will prepare our American employees—and those of our clients—to master the kinds of advanced skills that are now required to succeed in our digital future,” said Ravi Kumar, president of Infosys.

 

FedEx Plans to Invest $1.5 Billion into its Indy Hub

Early this year, the Tennessee-based logistics giant FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) announced plans to invest $1.5 billion to upgrade its operations at Indianapolis International. The announcement came just after the implementation of the U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which the company stated it believed would likely increase GDP and investment in the United States. Specific details about the upgrades were not publicly disclosed, but the company stated that its plan is to “significantly expand the Indianapolis hub over the next seven years.”

The hub is the company’s second-largest in the world and it occupies about 2.4 million square feet of space on airport-owned property on South Perimeter Road. The facility is capable of processing in excess of 214,000 packages and documents per hour.

At the time of the investment announcement, the company also stated that it would be making investments into its largest location in Memphis as well.

 

Plainfield Buys Nearly 2,000 Acres of Airport Land

After a few years of working the deal, the Town of Plainfield successfully closed on 1,800 acres of land near the Indianapolis International Airport (IND). Town officials have shared their vision of using the land to establish a world-class conservation area, while also achieving adjacent economic development.

Plainfield paid $1,588,609.06 for the land, which includes protected wetland areas as well as critical habitats for the endangered Indiana Brown Bat and other animal and plant species. The land already includes the Sodalis Nature Park, which features nature trails, picnic areas, and a 5.5-acre pond for public use managed by the Hendricks County Parks Board. The town also has plans to improve the recreational amenities in the area.

“Plainfield is known for award-winning parks and trails and this deal really magnifies our continued devotion to our community by providing more features,” said Town Council President, Robin Brandgard. “Our long-term vision for this land is to capitalize on the opportunity to provide additional recreational use and create a regional park. We hope it can also be an opportunity to educate people about endangered species in Indiana and the methods for protecting them. Ultimately, our efforts with this property will be for the betterment of the endangered Indiana bats.”

“This is a prime example of airport land contributing to the quality of life for local communities and economic development,” said Mario Rodriguez, Indianapolis Airport Authority Executive Director. “We’re excited to see how our neighbors and key community partners, the Town of Plainfield, enhance this area through ongoing conservation efforts for the benefit of all.”

Of the full acreage, 1,724 acres is restricted land based upon U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services and Army Corp of Engineers regulatory standards and is functionally reserved for conservation purposes, while 142 acres is unrestricted and available for other uses.

“Plainfield’s investment in the local economy and the growth it has generated directly supports the parks and amenities that we offer,” Brandgard continued, “This will be another great project to support those important quality of life initiatives that make Plainfield a great place to live.”

 

Potential for a New “First-Class” Hotel at IND

Among all of the other developments taking place around Indianapolis International, travelers could potentially have access to a first-class hotel one day soon. This spring, the airport authority board put out a Request for Expression of Interest (REI) to developers hoping to gauge interest in establishing a new hotel right next to the airport terminal’s parking.

There are still a lot of variables involved, so the process of actually establishing a hotel hasn’t officially been put into motion yet. Officials are studying what kind of impact a hotel on airport grounds would have on other hotels in the city and how the local tourism industry would be impacted. Additional input is also needed to determine feasibility and potential design concepts.

Officials described the kind of criteria a new hotel at IND would need, which included:

  • A modern design with high-end aesthetics to enhance the airport’s presentability to corporate guests that expect high-quality accommodations.
  • A nationally-branded or independent first-class hotel.
  • Amenities such as meeting spaces, superior furnishings, and features that reflect the airport’s position as the gateway to the overall Indianapolis area. Such features would include local food and beverage offerings and other conveniences expected by airport patrons.
  • An architectural expression that compliments the airport’s existing facilities.
  • Sustainability and environmental responsibility.

Responses to the REI were due this summer. No specific timeline for the new hotel has been established yet.

 

IND is Set to Soar

While all of these developments are going to be important milestones in their own right for Indianapolis International, their combined impact will be massive. It’s also likely that these investments will carry the potential to produce additional ones, particularly with all of the new jobs that will be created. It’s a high-flying time for economic development around the Indy airport, that’s for sure. The sky’s not even really the limit with opportunities and infrastructure like these.

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Category Cover Story, Features