Central Indiana update: the past year's top business stories.

Author:Kaelble, Steve

Like most of the rest of Indiana, the eight counties of Central Indiana have steered around most of the recessionary pitfalls of the past year.

The area, of course, landed the most prized economic-development plum in recent history, but that's only part of the story. Other businesses also have chosen Central Indiana for manufacturing facilities, and quite a few existing companies have decided to buck the bad-news trend and expand.


United Airlines' choice of Indianapolis for its $1 billion maintenance hub clearly was the biggest business news of the past year, according to Timothy Monger, president of the Indianapolis Economic Development Corp.

The airline in October named Indianapolis the winner of an economic-development competition that had people all over the country holding their breath. The United maintenance facility at Indianapolis International Airport eventually will provide high-paying jobs for some 6,300 people. There are other indirect benefits that local officials will be exploring down the road, Monger notes. "An important job for us now is to seek out and assist manufacturers and service firms in the aircraft industry who may see a move to Indianapolis as advantageous as a result of United Airlines' decision."

Next on Monger's list of big economic news is the decision by Nabisco Foods to expand its margarine-making operations in Indianapolis. The company operates a 161,000-square-foot plant on the east side of Indianapolis, and had been considering options that included closing the plant and leaving town. Instead, Nabisco announced in November that it would buy a 300,000-square-foot former publishing plant, which it will overhaul before moving in its 180 employees.

The U.S. Postal Service provided more good news for Marion County by choosing the airport for an Express Mail sorting facility. The hub will open within the next year or so and employ 700. Other items of note from Monger include USAir's expansion of its hub activities in Indianapolis, which means 40 percent more USAir flights; Eli Lilly & Co.'s $1 billion plans to expand facilities in the area in the next several years; plus expansions by the sportswear company Logo 7 and financial-services firm Charles Schwab.

On the retail business scene, the downtown Circle Centre Mall is moving forward at an increasing pace. In September, developer Melvin Simon & Associates signed agreements with the city of Indianapolis outlining mall-development commitments, and...

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