Inside INdiana Business

Delaware County welcomes major investment

Microgreens growing in a greenhouse. (stock photo courtesy: Pixabay/coloboque)

DALEVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Within the last two weeks, Delaware County has been able to celebrate the announcement of two major investments, totaling more than $33 million. The two deals could create more than 250 jobs in the region.

Tuesday, Balance Holdings Inc. announced plans to invest $18 million to build a new headquarters and manufacturing plant on a 33-acre parcel in Daleville. BHI produces specially designed greenhouse systems for the purpose of growing prescription-grade herbs and vegetables.

On May 18, Italy-based INOX Market Service announced it will establish stainless steel processing operations in the county, investing more than $15 million to build its North American headquarters in Muncie.

“Over the last 36 months, the Delaware County Commissioners have taken a renewed interest in expanding our tax base locally,” said Brad Bookout, director of economic affairs for Delaware County. “We needed new capital investment and machinery and equipment to increase our assessed value so the county can continue to provide services.”

With financial backing from Florida-based Capital Gains Corp., BHI is positioned to grow the company and add 120 employees within the next 18 months. The company already employs 34 people in Delaware County who are involved in research & development and sales.

“I’ve always met the inventors, always met these guys with great ideas. I’ll be the guy to bring it to market and help get the financing,” said Peter Florio, BHI president and chief operating officer. “So, I’m the least part of this, in my eyes.”

Employees at the facility will be involved in the continued development, design, and assembly of a specialized greenhouse system called Environmentally Controlled Sustainably Integrated Agriculture.

ECSIA was developed by company founder Glynn Barber.

His goal is to grow healthier fruits and vegetables in a closed-loop system, using fish to make nutrient-rich water to feed the crops. The water is circulated through the roots and back into tanks, reducing water usage on crop production.

While there is a home-based system, it could also be built to commercial scale, allowing operators to grow healthy organic vegetables and fruits for the market.

Without fertilizers or pesticides, the food grown in the system is sold as part of a “prescribed” food plan.

“We really can make a difference and we are making a difference and it’s a little overwhelming to be perfectly honest,” said Barber. “It’s very rewarding to see it make it to this level.”

Florio said he has developed multiple businesses in nine states over the past two decades, but the support he has received from Delaware County and the state of Indiana has been “exemplary.”

“I have never had the reception Delaware County has given us. At this level, it has always been phone calls, gatekeepers and dealing with assistants. But finding that support at any agency level…is overwhelming to me. I’ve never seen it before.”

Bookout said the county sees more potential growth while partnering with BHI.

“Their interest and their entrepreneurial spirit to bite off a full 33 acres of property and have a master plan development with multiple components being built over time, is exactly the type of company we want to work with.”

BHI plans to begin construction on the Delaware County facility off Interstate 69 and State Highway 67 this fall. Florio said other out lots will be for sale within the development; he said two other companies are considering potentially co-locating adjacent to the BHI facility in Daleville.

Last fall, the company also announced plans to build one of its systems at Fort Wayne’s Electric Works innovation district which is still in the development stage.