Purdue News

February 9, 2006

Purdue's development in Merrillville receives 'tech park' status

MERRILLVILLE and WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Ameriplex at the Crossroads, a business and technology park being developed in Merrillville by Purdue Research Foundation and Holladay Properties, has received designation as a State Certified Technology Park through the Indiana Economic Development Corp.

U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky
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The announcement of the official designation was made today (Thursday, Feb. 9) by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels during an event at the Purdue Technology Center of Northwest Indiana to celebrate the center's one-year anniversary.

The 48,000-square-foot incubator anchors the 386-acre Ameriplex at the Crossroads and is designed to be a stimulant for redirecting regional economic development by nurturing new high-technology businesses. It's modeled after the center at Purdue Research Park in West Lafayette that received the state's first official designation as a Certified Technology Park in May 2003.

"Today we certify what I've been telling people all over: Indiana — northwest Indiana is a great place to do business, any kind of business," Daniels said. "We've raised the standards for technology park certification. This park not only meets these expectations but is clearly a model for what a successful state-sponsored incubator should be."

The Indiana Certified Technology Park program is designed to encourage the development of high-growth, high-wage business opportunities and facilitate technology transfer between the corporate and academic sectors. Designation as a Certified Technology Park allows for the local recapture of certain state and local tax revenue that can then be invested in the park's development.

Also speaking at the event were Purdue University President Martin C. Jischke, U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.), Merrillville Town Council President Richard Hardaway, Holladay Properties Vice President Doug Hunt and Purdue Technology Center of Northwest Indiana's Executive Director John Hanak.

"Our Merrillville incubator is a very promising effort at replicating the economic development strides Purdue has made through our nationally recognized Purdue Research Park business development program," said Jischke, who also is president of the Purdue Research Foundation, the organization that manages both the West Lafayette and Merrillville incubators. "Here we're seeing a steady increase in the number of client firms, as well as receiving positive feedback on their efforts to form business relationships that will help them successfully develop their technologies in northwest Indiana."

This past year, the Purdue Technology Center's client firm 21st Century Systems Inc. has been partnering with the Indiana Department of Transportation and local planning and transportation organizations to develop TRACS, the company's Transportation Routing and Control Systems project that is funded by the Federal Highway Administration and centered upon integrated corridor management. Down the hall, Next Wave Systems Inc. has developed a working relationship with Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center to develop northwest Indiana projects in expeditionary warfare support and security systems.

The center, which opened with seven charter client firms in January 2005, now serves 10 technology-based tenants, three additional tenants and three technology-based affiliate companies. Companies with offices inside the center employ 39 workers, including researchers with advanced degrees, recent college graduates and interns.

"It's encouraging to see that high-tech companies from northwest Indiana, as well as across the country, see the value of growing their businesses and creating jobs right here in northwest Indiana," said Visclosky, who helped secure $6.9 million in federal funding to support the center's development.

Visclosky referenced northwest Indiana's Brogan Pharmaceuticals, which employs four employees and two interns, and ProLogic, an information-technology company based in West Virginia that has hired a chief scientist and five software engineers.

Over the past year, Hanak and his team have worked to recruit technology companies and help them integrate within the community. The center's management team also is developing a gap finance fund and an angel investor network.

"Our client firms are settling in and taking advantage of the amenities we have to offer here," Hanak said. "For example, NuVant Systems' founder Eugene Smotkin is utilizing our teleconferencing capabilities to teach classes from the center through a long-distance learning program involving the University of Puerto Rico and the University of Notre Dame."

In addition to accessing high-speed telecommunications infrastructure and videoconferencing, companies at the center benefit from shared office services, attractive rental rates, networking opportunities, business mentoring, enhanced opportunities for investor interest, technical assistance, and the use of Purdue's specialized research equipment and laboratories, as well as access to university purchasing services for small amounts of unique supplies.

As the center's list of client firms continues to grow, so do the number of companies vying for land to build in the surrounding Ameriplex at the Crossroads business and technology park. Thus far, the development includes Pinnacle Healthcare, a $25 million physician-owned hospital that will employ 80 to 100 people; E-Law LLC, a $3 million, 20,000-square-foot office building to house 30 to 40 employees; and the David E. Ross Building, a 66,000-square-foot, multi-tenant building designed to accommodate the needs of established firms in the life sciences and advanced manufacturing arenas.

"This master-planned, mixed-use business park being developed in Merrillville is in a prime location to attract companies that want to be near Chicago and have easy access to four major interstate highways," Hunt said. "Today's tech park designation by the state is one more way to bring in the kinds of high-tech companies we're interested in recruiting."

Any city, town or county with a redevelopment commission is eligible to have an area designated as a Certified Technology Park if certain requirements are met, including demonstrating the significant support of a research university; a commitment to the commercialization of products; access and utilization of public and private resources in the park; the existence of, or proposed development of, a business incubator; and the development of a business plan or the assurance that the park will be used for high-technology business activity. In addition, a firm commitment must be shown from at least one business primarily engaged in a high-technology activity and creating a significant number of jobs that it will locate within the park.

"Because this is a developer-backed bond, the town of Merrillville plans to use its portion of the revenue for road and bridge improvements on 101st Avenue," Hardaway said.

Jeanine Phipps, media relations, (765) 494-0748 (office), (765) 413-5579 (mobile), jeanine@purdue.edu

Weston Sedgwick, IEDC, (317) 232-8873 (office), (317) 691-5621 (mobile), wsedgwick@iedc.in.gov

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu


U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., talks about the partnership that made possible the Purdue Technology Center of Northwest Indiana as Purdue President Martin C. Jischke, in background from left, and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels listen. They were part of an event today (Thursday, Feb. 9) in Merrillville, Ind., to commemorate the center's one-year anniversary and to announce the designation of Ameriplex at the Crossroads, a business and technology park, as a state Certified Technology Park. (Purdue News Service photo/David Umberger)


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