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By Andrea Davis on September 07, 2016
Financial incentives were an important factor in BlueSky Technology Partners’ decision to build its $6 million headquarters in downtown Noblesville. But owners Todd Irwin and Eric Warne were just as impressed by the city’s plans to redevelop the area west of the White River.BlueSky Technology HQ construction

“At the end of the day, we’re big believers in the vision Noblesville has, and we want to help be the catalyst to make it happen,” Irwin said.

Construction began this year on the striking four-story, 42,000-square-foot building the e-commerce consulting company will call home beginning in July 2017. A fourth-floor balcony will overlook Federal Hill Commons, a city park being built to extend Noblesville’s bustling downtown across the river.

Together, the two projects are the beginning of what city officials hope will be a new identity for the Federal Hill District. Economic Development Director Judi Johnson said the goal is to jumpstart redevelopment in the area while establishing high standards for future investors to follow.

BlueSky’s 1.5-acre property at the corner of State Roads 32/38 and John Street had been vacant for decades, largely because of grade changes that complicated construction. To encourage development there, the city agreed to buy the land and to reimburse BlueSky up to $2.5 million for site preparation. When complete, the building's 170-space parking lot will be available for the public to use while visiting the park and other downtown destinations.

For its part, BlueSky agreed to make annual payments in lieu of property taxes for 20 years—$120,000 a year for the first decade and $170,000 a year for the second. The company also promised to retain its 55 existing local employees and to hire another 20. The average salary for the jobs: $92,000 per year.

The new headquarters will be BlueSky’s third location in Noblesville. Founded in 2006, the company has outgrown a pair of buildings in Stoney Creek Industrial Park, and its leadership team is temporarily leasing offices above a Huntington Bank branch downtown.

Irwin said BlueSky reached out to Johnson and former Planning Director Christy Langley for help when it became clear the company needed to move again, Irwin said. City officials laid the groundwork for such relationships through the annual business visits that are part of Noblesville’s unusual “Stay Here, Grow Here” economic development initiative.

“We don’t ever forget about our existing businesses,” Johnson said.

Indeed, Noblesville put together an aggressive incentives package to keep BlueSky from moving its operations to neighboring Fishers, which also was under consideration. But the final decision had much more to do with the big picture than the bottom line.

“The true inspiration was just to continue to cultivate the culture we have here at BlueSky, to give our staff a great work environment and something be proud of,” Irwin said, citing a consultant-led visioning session that identified priorities like access to green space and bike trails. “The city of Noblesville is so warm and inviting, so natural. There’s a town square, and river runs through it. These are things you can’t just build—there’s just something appealing about that for Eric and for me.”
Categories: "Case Studies", "City of Noblesville", "Economic Development", "Hamilton County", "Quality of Life"