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Holcomb: Lilly facilities in Boone County could anchor development incubator

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Economic development officials on Thursday said they want a site in Boone County to be Indiana’s answer to research and development parks elsewhere.

Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co. announced this week it will build a pair of pharmaceutical manufacturing plants in Boone County. On Thursday, Gov. Eric Holcomb and Indiana Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers said if the county’s leaders agree, the plants will occupy a 7,000-acre tract that the Indiana Economic Development Corp. bought earlier this year. That purchase sparked months of questions and even a tense town hall meeting among area residents who were trying to figure out what the land would be used for.

Chambers said the long-term goal for the land, located halfway between Purdue University and Indianapolis, is to become a research and development park similar to North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park. That site, first platted in the late 1950s, is located between Raleigh and Durham and is close to North Carolina State University, Duke University and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. More than 300 companies now have facilities there employing some 55,000 people.

“We have as talented people, we have as good if not better business climate, we have as good if not better universities, and we have workforce and innovation going on,” Chambers said. “So, why aren’t we able to compete with a Research Triangle Park-type approach?”

Holcomb said final land use decisions are up to Boone County officials.