Hickman shares optimism for Innovation Park

October 1st, 2018

By Mike Marturello | KPC Media - The Herald Republican

Mayor Dick Hickman hinted that big things are ahead for the development known as Innovation Park during an update given to members of the Angola Area Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.

The development, at the intersection of U.S. 20 and Interstate 69, is more than a decade in the making, its roots dating to 2003, just two years after Hickman took over the mayor’s office.

While the conclusion of his talk might have seemed like a cliff hanger to some, Hickman spoke with optimism about the development that is going to put a lasting imprint on the city’s gateway from the interstate.

“I really wasn’t trying to leave people in suspense, but I think there’s some good things coming,” Hickman said.

There is much interest in the park, which started with development of a senior apartment complex — Terrace Ridge — and a medical office building on the north side of the highway.

A Wingate by Wyndham is currently being built as the first project in the development, which follows installation of all of the infrastructure needed to accommodate development.

There are other parties interested in the property, but nothing has been announced.

Hickman said the Steuben County Economic Development Corp. along with the private development group Thomas Miller & Associates, Indianapolis, are working to market the property, which is supposed to attract technology concerns. In addition, Angola First Development, the private entity behind the development, is also working to attract business to the park.

“With the interest we’re having around our community, I just think there’s a lot of good things coming,” Hickman said. “I just think there’s a lot of interest.”

Hickman gives much credit to the many parties that participated in working together to make the project happen.

“Partnerships are important to getting projects completed in the city of Angola,” Hickman said.

To get the project off the ground it took up-front investment, and the timing of the state’s Community Crossings program was instrumental.

When the state’s Community Crossings program came available, Angola and its partners in the Innovation Park project — Angola First Development and Speedway Inc. — were ready with the needed money to invest in developing the land at the southwest corner of the intersection.

The city applied for a $1 million Community Crossings grant, which it received. That meant Angola had to put up $1 million in a match. Angola First and Speedway also contributed $1 million apiece, putting together the necessary $4 million for site work and infrastructure, which included streets, sewer, water and fiber optic lines.

The project has all been about timing — good and bad. After getting started in the middle of the last decade, the project came to a halt with the Great Recession that started in 2008.

Now the project is going great guns again, with the Wingate being developed and, Hickman hopes, other parties waiting in the wings, ready to build corporate homes in the park, bringing with them decent-paying jobs.