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By Ken de la Bastide | The Herald Bulletin | Aug 10, 2016
ANDERSON – With the shell of the building that will house the Italpollina factory and U.S. headquarters in the background, CEO Luca Bonini said this is the first step.
Italpollina and Anderson city officials broke ground Wednesday on the Italian company’s fertilizer plant on the former site of several General Motors plants.
The company is constructing the 70,000-square-foot facility at an estimated cost of $4.5 million and Italpollina is investing $4.7 million in equipment.
Italpollina is a world leader in the production of organic fertilizers, biostimulants of vegetal origin and beneficial microorganisms.
Production in Anderson is expected to start in 2017.
The company’s headquarters is being constructed west of the Purdue Polytechnic Institute that will open next year.
“Welcome to the neighborhood,” Corey Sharp, director of Purdue’s College of Technology in Anderson, said.
Sharp said the university is building a relationship with Italpollina and partnering in the area of research and workforce development. Sharp said Italpollina is at the forefront of agricultural science and technology and discussions have started with Purdue University.
“Eleven months ago was the ground breaking for the Purdue facility,” he said. “It really was the ground breaking for these 76 acres.”
Sharp noted that Mary Jamerson took the initial risk by relocating her two car dealerships to the site and was quickly followed by Community Hospital’s new health center.
“We are looking long term in the future,” Bonini said. “We’re working with the university and to our growth.”
He said Italpollina has other projects in the “pipeline” for future growth in Anderson.
“We are starting the process to develop new technology that will be used in Anderson,” Bonini said. “We’re looking forward to be in Anderson for a long time.
“Right now there is a lot of emotion,” he said. “This is very exciting. This is a great moment for us.”
Bonini said Italpollina introduced its product in the United States several years ago and wanted to establish a factory in the U.S.
He thanked developers John Paugh and Bill Fredericks for believing in the project and constructing the facility that the company will lease for 10 years before purchasing.
Jon Leman, commercial director for Italpollina, said Bonini approached him several years ago about building a plant and facility that could serve the U.S. market.
“I thought it would take 3 to 5 years,” he said. “It took 2 ½ years to reach this point.”
Paugh noted that General Motors had employed 6,600 workers at that location and it’s exciting to see jobs returning to the site.
“I’m a graduate of Madison Heights,” he said. “I’ve seen all the ups and downs in Anderson.”
Mayor Thomas Broderick Jr. said he is looking to the future and know it’s going to be great for Anderson.
“There have been discussions about the future in Anderson,” he said. “There are great things in store for Anderson and the country.”
Broderick said Anderson has been working to diversify the local economy and that Italpollina joins Technoplast and Sirmax as Italian companies moving to Anderson in recent months.
“We’re happy to be opening our doors to global partners,” he said.
Greg Winkler, executive director of the Anderson Economic Development Department, said that without Paugh and Fredericks this project wouldn’t have happened.
He said the Italpollina and Purdue site used to be the industrial heart of Anderson and that people in the community are familiar with the location.
“It has changed over the past 25 to 30 years,” Winkler said. “It’s bringing new hope and new opportunities.”
The Anderson Redevelopment Commission recently approved an option with Italpollina for the possible purchase of an additional 10 acres within the next five years for the expansion of the Anderson operations.
The commission would sell the land to the developers for $1,000 per acre.