At our upcoming City Council meeting on Dec. 12, the City Council will vote on a 5200+ acre 100% voluntary annexation to the City of Lebanon. Why is this happening?

Long story short, the State of Indiana has been missing out on economic development opportunities in emerging and critical industries for our State and Nation. In light of this, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) came up with the idea to create the Limitless Exploration/Advanced Pace, or LEAP, District. The IEDC picked Lebanon for a number of reasons including our proximity to Indianapolis, Purdue University, the International Airport, and available land.

The LEAP District is being modeled after premier industrial areas in our nation, such as the Research Triangle in North Carolina. It has the potential to become the preeminent site for next generation industries powering the future of Indiana and the Midwest. These companies will create extremely high-paying quality jobs for Lebanon’s residents, our children, grandchildren, and our neighbors. This project has the potential to bring prosperity to all citizens of Lebanon.

This is not a typical business park. The vision is to have a development with large setbacks, a high level of architectural standards, corporate headquarters, research labs, walking trails, and many other great amenities.

This was not something that the City asked for, but as your representative, it is our job to maximize its benefit to you.

But if you already have a job you like, or are retired, how does this benefit you? Simply put, the infrastructure investments and increased taxes paid by these companies will directly benefit all Lebanon citizens. As I said, this is not a traditional business park. We are talking about companies that want to make investments in the tens of billions, not the tens of millions as we normally see.

For perspective, the entire City of Lebanon’s net assessed value is just over $1 billion. We have already seen a peek at the potential significance of the LEAP district with the $2.1 billion proposed development from Eli Lilly.

When a company makes a 2, 10, or 40+ billion dollar investment in Lebanon, it will have a dramatic revenue impact for the City. We assume the state will use a new economic development tool called the Innovation Development District. This captures the State’s portion of taxes and requires those dollars to be reinvested in the district to fund infrastructure.

The revenue received directly to the City from a project like this would be in the tens of millions. These funds can be used for any legal purpose. I would propose that we use these funds to pre-pay residents’ City property tax bills, make investments in our street lighting, sidewalks, parks, public safety, roads, downtown parking, or any project that will make Lebanon residents’ lives better, all while decreasing their tax burden. These large tax payments would be received on a yearly basis, not as a one off. The impact these funds could have on our community would be extraordinary.

These revenues would be on top of any investments the State would need to make the LEAP district “work.” If the wastewater treatment plant needs to be expanded to serve LEAP, the State should pay for it. If water mains in town need to be upgraded to serve LEAP, the State should pay for it. If a new road needs to be built to connect U.S. 52 and S.R. 32, the State should pay for it. I think you get my point. These may have been projects that City residents would need to fund but by requiring the State to make the investment, we all benefit without having to pay for it ourselves.

We are already seeing the State starting the process to construct a new northern interchange off of I-65 in the County Road 300 North area. This new interchange will help alleviate the periodic headaches of traffic on S.R. 39. Also, the State is developing engineering documents to bring an additional 10 million gallons of water per day (MGD) to Lebanon. This addresses a long-recognized water need for Lebanon and Boone County. This project’s significant cost will no longer require Lebanon citizens to fund its construction because of the LEAP project.

In every meeting I have with the State, my goal is to maximize the benefit for all Lebanon residents. I know this project has been met with resistance from some, but I firmly and will continue to believe that this project is in the best interests of Lebanon residents of today and tomorrow.

Change is always hard, but in our society, property rights is a critical pillar. A willing buyer was able to come to terms with a willing seller and they have now requested annexation. As the council considers this request, we are looking to strike a balance between respecting neighbors already in the area while also looking toward attracting next generation companies and opportunities.

I ask you to continue to trust me as I continue to work on your behalf, as I have been doing over the last seven years. My door continues to be open, and I always want to hear your desires on wishes for our City.

– Matt Gentry

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