Chicago firm interested in Merrillville
Publication date: 09/15/1998 – Source: www.TheTimesOnline.com
Article Title: 
Chicago firm interested in Merrillville.
By: Cliston Brown

MERRILLVILLE - A Chicago plastics manufacturer wants an estimated $700,000 to $800,000 in tax-abatement incentives to move to town.
In return, Chicago-based Polycon offers the potential enticement of at least 150 jobs for area residents.
Dennis Tilles, president of Chicago-based Polycon, said Monday tax abatement would be one of the top considerations his company would take into account in deciding where to move.
The company, which manufactures plastic containers, is considering several other locations in northwest Indiana and southeast Wisconsin. In short, Polycon is looking for the best deal, at a site where it will have plenty of room to expand.
"We're trying to grow the business, and we're basically out of room in Chicago," Tilles said.
Tilles said Merrillville is in the running because of its location, its growth potential and because of Indiana's lower costs for workers' compensation and electricity. His company is considering 20 acres of an 80-acre parcel east of Colorado Street, between 89th and 93rd avenues.
"Logistically, it offers us a lot of benefits, like accessibility to our major market, Chicago and the Chicagoland area," Tilles said.
But Polycon wants 10 years of tax abatement to counter what the town does not yet have in place in the panhandle area, where the company is interested in locating.
What is lacking at that site is available infrastructure. The town presently is working with the Merrillville Conservancy District on a plan to extend sewer lines into the largely undeveloped area.
The town also is in the process of turning 93rd Avenue into a major thoroughfare. The plant, if it locates at the site, would sit on the portion of the property closest to 93rd Avenue.
David Lasser, president of Commercial In-Sites, the broker handling the land sale, told town councilmen Monday, at a meeting of the council's Affairs Committee, that tax abatement would be crucial in convincing Polycon to locate in Merrillville.  Lasser estimated the town would net $1.3 million in revenues over 10 years even with granting abatement whereas only $28,000 in property taxes over the same period if the parcel remained a soybean field.
"Tax abatement is the number-one tool the town has to offer," Lasser said. "This is the least developed area (of the areas Polycon is considering), the least ready to go."
While councilmen expressed some concerns, Planning and Zoning Administrator Shawn Pettit said the business would be good for the town. He said he had visited the company's Chicago manufacturing facility and was impressed with how it handled factors like noise and recycling.
"I think it's the kind of business we want in Merrillville," Pettit said.
And then, there's the issue of jobs.
Tilles told councilmen Monday his company would seek to fill a minimum of 150 jobs immediately upon opening a new facility. He estimated 25 of the company's roughly 175 existing employees would be retained and transferred to whatever location the company decides upon.
The Chicago manufacturing facility would be closed, and a separate distribution facility, also located in Chicago, might follow.
The committee will meet again at 2 p.m. Friday in the Municipal Complex, 7820 Broadway, to discuss whether to place the tax-abatement request on the agenda for the Sept. 22 council meeting.

Related Article:  09/10/1998  Merrillville's Panhandle a hot property.

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