Making Noblesville a Major Economic Development Powerhouse
Photography Provided by Amy Payne & the City of Noblesville
In January 2020, a new mayor will be sworn into office, bringing to a close the administration of Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear after 16 years of service – the longest-tenured mayor in the city’s history. Since 2004, the city has steadily grown in population. Its borders have expanded and the community has transformed “from cornfields to corporations” while preserving the small-town charm of its historic downtown that is an important part of Noblesville’s identity.
In this first edition of the Noblesville 20/20 retrospective series, Noblesville Magazine will reflect on this transformation through the lens of economic development.
“You don’t have to look far to see the obvious signs of our economic growth,” Ditslear says. “Whether along Conner Street, State Road 37 or near Corporate Campus and I-69, business is booming in every area of our community.”
That kind of growth doesn’t happen on its own according to Judi Johnson, director of economic development for the city.
“You do it by proactively working to move people and product into your city,” Johnson says
An early win for Ditslear in the retail market was attracting Simon lifestyle mall’s Hamilton Town Center, which opened its first store in 2008. The project was a major catalyst that ushered in explosive development for the city made possible by extending 146th Street. Later years, the city saw further growth in the I-69 area with the addition of Cabela’s, Duluth Trading and other retail stores, restaurants and hotels.
Like Noblesville’s eclectic retail market, which ranges from family-owned, mom-and-pop shops to national chains, its other industries are just as varied – manufacturing, office, research and development – you name it.
“Our secret to attracting and growing such a variety of businesses has been our ‘whole life’ philosophy,” Ditslear says. “We want to help businesses start here, as well as to stay here and continue to grow.”
With that in mind, the Mayor launched the STAY HERE GROW HERE business retention and attraction program with resources for companies to help with everything from workforce development to site selection for new facilities as they expand operations.
Japanese-based SMC, a leader in pneumatic technology, moved its North American Corporate Headquarters to Noblesville in 2009 and have expanded twice since. The 2.5 million-square-foot facility employs more than 950 workers and produces the pneumatic parts that provide the muscle behind automation through automated control technology.
Helmer Scientific manufactures medical equipment and devices. Their relocation from the Stony Creek Business Park and expansion to the Saxony Business Park in 2007 helped establish Noblesville as a hub for medical device manufacturing and pharmaceutical research. Joining Helmer in 2015 was Zevacor Molecular, a cutting-edge manufacturer and distributor of radiopharmaceuticals and home to the nation’s first commercial 70 MeV Cyclotron.
Verdure Sciences is a botanicals company that researches and manufactures plant-based solutions for pharmaceutical applications. They moved to Noblesville in 2002 and, in 2018, built a new headquarters in the Metro Enterprise Business Park – the same year they achieved a 40-percent increase in sales growth.
Meanwhile, Noblesville has grown its identity as a hub for the tech industry as well.
Local firm BlueSky Technology, a leader in e-commerce and digital marketing, opened for business in 2006. By 2017, with the city’s assistance, the international company accomplished its goal of expanding operations under one roof with an ultra-modern, 42,000-square-foot headquarters adjacent to the city’s new urban park, Federal Hill Commons.
When BorgWarner was interested in consolidating two existing facilities in Madison County, the company chose Noblesville for its new Indiana Technical Center. The 100,000-square-foot facility opened in 2018 for research and development of new combustion, hybrid and electric vehicle technology, bringing with it 300 high-tech, high-wage jobs.
Another part of Noblesville’s success is due to the growth of its hospitality and tourism industry. With the opening of the new Embassy Suites Conference Center at Olio Road and Tegler Boulevard, Ditslear fulfilled his promise to the business community by adding a world-class conference center. Noblesville now has limitless opportunities to attract conferences from across the nation with nearly eight acres of real estate and 29,000 square feet of meeting space and amenities.
Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center continues to attract popular musical talent and in 2018 was ranked as the world’s top concert amphitheater. No other concert amphitheater in the world sold more tickets in 2018 than Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center, bringing in hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.
And all of these companies have helped support the hundreds of other businesses, large or small, throughout the community.
“I joke that my golden scissors have gotten a workout with all of our ribbon cuttings,” Ditslear says. “But as more and more businesses open their doors, it leads to the growth of supporting industries. Not only does Noblesville’s diversified economy feed off one another for financial gain, they provide innovation to one another in the form of new ideas and product generation.”
This growth of the city’s economy through business attraction and retention is only half of the picture. The investment in infrastructure and the growth of business has brought a tremendous boom in population. Since Ditslear took office in 2004, Noblesville’s population has grown 57 percent to more than 61,000 residents in 2017.
As a result of Noblesville’s economic development success, the assessed value of all commercial and residential property has skyrocketed since 2004 by 134 percent – to $6 billion.
While growth and change are exciting, such efforts on the part of the city must be handled with great care.
“With every project, we ask ourselves – is this right for Noblesville?” Ditslear says. “It’s our responsibility to ensure we’re moving our city forward in such a way that doesn’t lose sight of what we are about. I believe we’ve accomplished that for today’s residents and with future generations in mind as well.”
The Noblesville 20/20 series will continue in the June issue with an in-depth look at the growth of the city under Mayor Ditslear due to the investment in Noblesville’s infrastructure.