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MUNCIE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The Community Foundation of Muncie and Delaware County has promoted Marcy Minton to president, the organization announced Thursday. Minton joined the foundation in 2014 as community engagement director and has served as senior program officer since 2016.

Minton succeeds Kelly Shrock, who previously announced her resignation and will step down August 5.

“Marcy stood out as the right choice for this role because of her vision for The Community Foundation, passion for Muncie and Delaware County, and experience within the community foundation world,” Trent Dowling, chair of the foundation’s board of directors, said in written remarks. “We anticipate a seamless transition because of her knowledge of the community, the Foundation, and the philanthropic landscape.”

Minton will work with Shrock to aid in the transition through the end of Shrock’s tenure. She will officially begin her new role Aug. 8.

The foundation says Minton’s initial focus will be on moving the organization’s operations to its newly-acquired building and connecting with the community.

MUNCIE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A retail center in Muncie is under new ownership, and the city has plans to improve connectivity in the area. Entrepreneur Scott Mick, owner of The Barking Cow ice cream shop, has acquired White River Plaza, though financial terms were not disclosed.

White River Plaza is the home of several businesses, including a restaurant, comic book shop and more. It was previously owned by a tax-exempt, nonprofit entity.

However, the city says now that the development is owned by a for-profit entity, it will provide a boost in property tax revenue and see benefits from incoming retailers.

White River Plaza is located near Westside Park and the White River Greenway. Muncie Mayor Dan Ridenour plans to invest in crosswalk improvements and an exit ramp from the Greenway to Nichols Avenue, allowing pedestrians to easily access the retail center.

“People ask me all the time, ‘Where can I get lunch or a drink along the Greenway?’” Ridenour said in written remarks. “A family living downtown should be able to walk the Greenway, stop for lunch and shopping at the Plaza, and then spend the afternoon at Westside park. That’s what it means to be a walkable city.”

The infrastructure improvements are set to be paid from the mayor’s EDIT funds, according to the city. Additionally, the Muncie City Council will consider a tax abatement for renovations and improvements to the plaza itself.

“We are excited about the opportunity to breathe new life into the White River Plaza,” said Mick. “Our goal is to bring new traffic to its current tenants as well as offer a home for new businesses and restaurants to serve as an appealing gateway to the downtown area.”

The city says the first improvements to be made will include upgrades to the plaza’s facade and parking lot in an effort to attract potential restaurant tenants.

Improvements to both the plaza and greenway are expected to get underway in the coming months.

MUNCIE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — State and local officials will Wednesday join executives from Poland-based Canpack to mark a milestone in the construction of the company’s new aluminum can manufacturing plant in Muncie.

The company will host a topping-off ceremony, which will see the final steel beam put into place for the 862,000-square-foot facility.

Canpack first announced plans for the more than $380 million facility in May 2021. The company is expected to create at least 345 jobs at the plant by the end of 2023.

In an interview on “Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick” shortly after the original announcement, Canpack U.S. Regional Manager Tom Johnson cited Indiana’s business climate as a major factor for building the facility in the Hoosier state.

“The commitment in Indiana to making sure that we’ve got folks available for the type of workforce that we need,” Johnson said. “I think we’re going to offer a very competitive wage. I think our benefits package is also extremely competitive and I think that we can really differentiate with our culture. Our culture is very much one that is centered around the customer and our employees and we believe that comes out in everything that we do.”

Gov. Eric Holcomb, Delaware County Commissioner James King, and Muncie Mayor Dan Ridenour will be on hand for the ceremony.

Canpack expects the facility to be operational in the fourth quarter.

MUNCIE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — An Italy-based industrial filter manufacturer is expanding its presence in Delaware County. Filtrec says it will invest more than $1 million to establish its new North American headquarters and an assembly plant just south of Muncie and create up to 21 jobs by the end of the year.

Filtrec acquired the former Taurus Tool building near State Road 67 last week. Mauro Milani, U.S. director of operations for Filtrec, says the company will move its inventory of thousands of filters into the new location this month.

The company previously housed its inventory in a storage building in Daleville.

Filtrec says once the inventory is moved, it will begin installing assembly equipment to make a variety of filter products, followed by the buildout of the company’s headquarters offices.

“As soon as we complete relocation, we’ll stock 2,000 more filters,” Milani said in written remarks. “We’ll be up and running in the new building at the end of this month.”

Milani cited the county’s business climate and proximity to Filtrec’s customer base as reasons for the expansion.

“Delaware County has showed us so much interest and support,” Milani said. “Delaware County did so great for us. The county and the county’s economic development team are always first in line helping us.”

Filtrec produces more than 1,000 types of industrial and hydraulic filters used for a variety of uses, including manufacturing, excavating, cranes, mining, and agriculture.

The company currently employs nine U.S. workers.

MUNCIE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Gov. Eric Holcomb and the Indiana Department of Transportation have announced the recipients of nearly $108 million in state matching funds for local road projects.

The projects are receiving the funding through the Community Crossings initiative.

Community Crossings is a component of Holcomb’s Next Level Roads program.

Nearly 200 cities, towns and counties received funding. To be eligible, local governments had to provide local matching funds of 50% for larger communities and 25% for smaller communities. They must also have an asset management plan for existing roads and bridges.

“Continuing to modernize and enhance our transportation infrastructure is critical to the economic success in and around our incredible communities and ultimately Hoosiers’ prosperity itself,” Holcomb said in written remarks. “Community Crossings makes immediate impacts on improving local roads and bridges across Indiana. Those improvements translate to a safe, reliable, robust transportation infrastructure that benefits residents and business in every corner of our state and every place in between.”

You can view the full list of recipients by clicking here.

INDOT says more than $1 billion in state matching funds have been awarded since 2016. The next call for projects will be issued in July.

MUNCIE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The Ball State University Board of Trustees is advancing a comprehensive revitalization plan for The Village, located just off the Muncie campus.

The plan includes a multimillion-dollar performing arts center for university events, as well as as a $100 million mixed-use development that will include a hotel and retail, restaurant, innovation and residential space. The board has authorized Ball State President Geoffrey Mearns to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Ohio-based developer Fairmount Properties to move forward with the project.

The Village has seen a slow and steady decline in recent years, according to the university, which made the revitalization a priority as part of its Destination 2040: Our Flight Path strategic plan.

Ball State says The Village has seen consistent vacancy and decreasing real estate assessed valuation, despite increased overall valuation for the city and Delaware County.

“This important revitalization on the edge of our beautiful campus will attract community members from throughout our region, enhancing the appeal of our University and our city,” Mearns said in written remarks. “For residents, this work will enhance the quality of place in Muncie. And for businesses, this work will promote talent retention and spur economic growth.”

The goal of the project is to create a commercial district driven by arts & culture, entertainment, and innovation. Ball State says its investment in the new performing arts center will leverage about $100 million in private investment.

The center will be constructed on a vacant space at the corner of McKinley and University avenues. It will include two performance venues for Ball State Theatre and Dance students and host more than 160 university performances each year. It will also host performances from local schools and arts organizations.

Fairmount Properties plans to invest $100 million to design and build the other half of the project, including the hotel, innovation spaces for offices and research, commercial space for retailers and restaurants, as well as apartments and townhomes.

The new additions, including the performing arts center, will be built on five sites in The Village.

Muncie Mayor Dan Ridenour tells Inside INdiana Business the project accelerates and reinforces Ball State’s place as an economic and entertainment driver in east central Indiana.

“We’re looking forward to what that entertainment venue and the rest of the development can do for driving more people to Ball State not just for the education component, but for the entertainment components that can come from that,” said Ridenour.

While Muncie remains a big manufacturing community, Ridenour says Ball State is still the city’s largest employer and the Village project will benefit the city as well as the university.

“It provides some additional opportunities in an area around their campus. It helps them with recruitment both of students and of faculty, and those are always good for the city of Muncie because they bring their revenue dollars and their tax dollars to our community,” he said. “So, we know that partnering with Ball State when we can and when it makes sense is a positive for the city.”

Ridenour says while this is a Ball State project, the city is ready to assist the university with whatever it needs to move the project forward.

Ball State says once the MOU is signed, the university will finalize a development agreement with Fairmount properties. Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2024.

You can view the presentation to the Ball State Board of Trustees by clicking here.

MUNCIE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – Ball State University is launching a new initiative through its College of Health that it says will strengthen mental health capacities at the local, regional, state, and national levels. The newly-formed Center for Substance Use Research and Community Initiatives will focus on addictions research and community interventions to address substance misuse.

Ball State says the initiative is of particular importance within the Muncie and Delaware County communities, where recent studies have found a need for the prevention and intervention of substance misuse.

“Ball State’s College of Health continues to move boldly forward in making interprofessional education, practice, and research its paradigm across each of its disciplines,” said Dr. Scott Rutledge, College of Health dean. “The formation of the Center for Substance Use Research and Community Initiatives is the latest example of this focus. SURCI strives to become a national model for addressing addictions issues in local communities, and we are committed to continue working hand-in-hand with our community partners to expand and enhance these critical services across the state of Indiana.”

Ball State says SURCI will collaborate with local elected officials and community service providers through its partnership with the Addictions Coalition of Delaware County.

SURCI will be led by Dr. Dane Minnick, assistant professor of social work, and Dr. Jean Marie Place, associate professor of health science, who will serve as the director of community research and administration. Dr. Jonel Thaller, associate professor of social work, will serve as the director of community engagement.

MUNCIE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The chief executive officer of Minnesota-based Living Greens Farm says Muncie beat out other locations in Indiana, Illinois and Ohio for a planned $70 million aeroponic farm facility. The company this week said it would build the 200,000-square-foot farming, processing and packaging facility and create up to 120 jobs by the end of 2024. George Pastrana says the Delaware County city turned out to be “one of the most ideal places we could’ve selected.”

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Pastrana said Muncie has multiple benefits, but he felt the company could benefit the city as well.

“It had at the time an unemployment rate well over 5%, so for us as a mission-centered company, it was important for us to locate in a place where we could make a difference in a local community,” said Pastrana. “Delaware County in general has also a very high poverty rate – nearly 20% – so, again, as an employer that pays good wages and benefits, we thought that would be a benefit in the local community.”

Pastrana says Muncie also provides logistical benefits for the company.

“It allows us to service a wide geography,” he said. “This facility that we’re putting up in Muncie will serve metropolitan areas as far east as Pittsburgh, as far north as Milwaukee, Detroit and the Twin Cities, as far west as Kansas City and as far south as Charlotte. So, it’s a pretty good location relative to the logistics, the highway infrastructure.”

Living Greens Farms uses a vertical aeroponic farming method it says will be able to produce nearly 5 million pounds of pesticide-free leafy greens annually. Pastrana says aeroponic farming involves suspending the plants’ roots in the air and misting them with water that contains essential nutrients for growth.

Pastrana says the benefit of aeroponic farming versus hydroponic, where the roots are suspended in water, is that plants can be grown to full-size.

Indoor agriculture is seeing an increase in popularity. Two hydroponic greenhouse companies in South Bend, JEM Farms and Greenleaf Holdco, recently received tax incentives for their plans to collectively invest $260 million to expand operations.

Pastrana says the growth of indoor agriculture is mainly due to both improvements in technology and increased consumer demand.

“Consumers today are more apt to choose healthier foods to eat, so foods without pesticides, herbicides, non-GMO-type foods. They preferred it sourced locally, which is an advantage that indoor agriculture has over traditional farming methods. Over 95% of the leafy greens we eat in the United States is grown on the West Coast. So, those leafy greens, to get to the East Coast, travel up to six days over land, and so they lose quite of a bit of their freshness.”

He says traditional farming is also feeling the effects of climate change with farmland losing nutrients.

Pastrana says the company expects to have the Muncie facility up and running in about a year. The company plans to begin hiring for production, processing, shipping, management, and administrative positions beginning in the second quarter.

Once the Muncie facility opens, Living Greens Farms plans to open similar facilities in the southeast and northeast regions of the country, as well as a location in Texas, over the next few years.

MUNCIE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A Minnesota company that bills itself as the world’s largest indoor vertical aeroponic farm is setting up shop in Delaware County. Living Greens Farm says it will invest nearly $70 million to establish a 200,000-square-foot farming, processing and packaging facility in Muncie and create up to 120 jobs by the end of 2024.

The company says the new location will allow it to expand its bagged salad and salad kit offerings to retailers and consumers throughout the Midwest and Midsouth regions.

Chief Executive Officer George Pastrana says Muncie is an ideal location to begin the company’s national expansion.

“It will help us to better supply our current retail partners, such as Walmart, Whole Foods, HyVee, UNFI and others, as well as allow expansion into additional leading retail and wholesale operations across the Midwest,” Pastrana said in written remarks. “I wish to thank the fine people of Muncie and Delaware County for the work they put into making this new farm a reality. As we are from a rural town in Minnesota, they made us feel that Muncie would be exactly the environment that would work well for us.”

Living Greens says the Muncie facility will use an advanced farming system that requires “significantly less” water than traditional farming methods. The farm will be able to grow and harvest nearly 5 million pounds of pesticide-free leafy greens annually.

The farming system is expected to save an estimated 103 million gallons of water per year.

The company expects to begin hiring for production, processing, shipping, management, and administrative positions for the Muncie location beginning in the second quarter.

“We are so pleased to have the Living Greens Farm investment in Delaware County,” said Delaware County Commissioner President Sherry Riggin. “Diversification of industry in our community is incredibly important. The leafy greens product is a wonderful addition, and we’re happy to welcome them to the county.”

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. has offered Living Greens Farm up to $1.2 million in conditional tax credits, which the company will not be eligible to claim until Hoosier workers are hired for the new jobs and the planned capital investments are made. Delaware County has approved additional incentives.

MUNCIE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A beleaguered shopping mall on the south side of Muncie is about to undergo a major renovation. Mayor Dan Ridenour announced Southway Centre will be redeveloped, including cosmetic changes, new businesses and a new name.

The 19-acre retail strip will now operate as The Markets on Madison as the city attempts to lure visitors to that part of the city.

Ridenour says the development will include a mix of restaurants, businesses and retail. There is also a discussion about a grocery store.

The shopping area was purchased last year by BrickRed Systems, a software and IT company based in Washington State.

“Southway Plaza was the perfect property to redevelop in south Muncie, as this is a major entry way for Muncie,” said Pankaj Mohindru, Director of BrickRed Systems. “It will not be easy, but we have a lot of support from the city and neighbors. We want to bring people back to the space. We hope locals and visitors alike will enjoy exploring new restaurants, businesses and spending time with family.”

Mohindru said BrickRed hopes to bring 50 IT jobs to the site and start a satellite office for their company at the development.

The project is set to start this spring.