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By Bill Ehret, SIOR, Avison Young

We’ve seen a lot of headlines about companies bringing new jobs to the Hendricks County area. It’s easy to see why. With a great location, a pro-business mentality and room for growth, the area has plenty to offer.

However, if the metro area doesn’t come up with a better way to get workers to jobs, growth in Hendricks and other counties surrounding Indy could dry up. As a result, I’m calling on employers, property owners and municipalities to collaborate on a solution. Otherwise, our area might miss out on future jobs—and even lose existing jobs.

Plainfield and Whitestown have done a great job attracting big employers. But, historically, almost half of all the workers in Hendricks County come from outside the county. So, the more jobs the area attracts, the farther its workers will have to travel to get to the jobs. Without an inter-county transit system, that’s a problem.

Currently, the Central Indiana Regional Transportation Authority, the towns of Plainfield and Whitestown, IndyGo and a number of public-private partners operate three shuttle services from the Marion County line to employers in Hendricks and Boone counties. However, these shuttles are supported in part by a three-year federal grant. We need a long-term solution.

I recently talked with one area business owner who said his employee turnover is three times what it should be, with much of it attributed to workers’ transportation issues. This is not what you want to hear from employers in our metro area.

I see a few ways we can respond to this challenge.

If you look at that solution closely, you’ll see it involves a variety of stakeholders: the business and developers pay part of the cost, as do taxpayers and municipalities. In other words, this is not a cost we put on any single group. We all must work together to make transit a reliable part of our economic development scenario. If we do, we’ll all benefit. If we don’t, we all could lose.

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