PORTAGE, IN-Indianapolis-based Holladay Group has started work on two office buildings that are part of its 385-acre mixed use commercial property development, Ameriplex @ the Port, which is in northwest Indiana, east of Gary. The first building, the 24,000-sf Dearborn, will have as its anchor tenant the new WorkOne Center, a consortium of organizations that provide services to both employers and job seekers. A 20,000-sf building will be the new headquarters for the Sheetmetal Workers Training Center.

Job creation and worker training are especially important in northwest Indiana. The area’s industrial base made something of a comeback in the 1990s after a number of lean decades, but it still faces problems, particularly in maintaining a viable industrial work force. Members of the consortium occupying WorkOne Center will include the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, Portage Adult Education, Discovery Alliance, Absolute Solutions, Goodwill Industries and Opportunity Industries.

“The two facilities will (help) lay the foundation for the expanded development of the work force in northwest Indiana, serving the Chicago marketplace,” says Tim Healy, senior vice president of development for Holladay.

The location of these organizations in the Ameriplex development also will be good for the development itself. “Other businesses locating to the park will have available training facilities to access labor and meet their specific educational needs,” Healy adds.

Located on land formerly owned by Bethlehem Steel, Ameriplex is one of the largest business parks currently under way in Indiana and was put on the market about a year ago. Now 21% of its land has been sold to end users, primarily for distribution purposes. Most notably, the industrial park has signed Mercedes Benz, which will run a distribution facility that feeds 24 plants in North America. The company will settle in to 120,000 sf to start and later add 180,000 sf to its facilities.

When finished in a projected 10 years, Ameriplex will feature five million sf of industrial space employing as many as 4,000 people. The CSX rail-served park, located in Portage and bordered by the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, is immediately off of Interstate 94 about 20 miles from the Illinois border. It is near the Gary/Chicago Airport and the Port of Indiana.

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