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BUSINESS REPORT: Hat World Puts Expanded Headquarters In Zionsville, IN

By Jonathan Sanders
From the January/February 2014 issue

Hat World, Inc., a homegrown Hoosier company, manufactures sports apparel and operates retail stores primarily under the LIDS brand, a familiar mecca for team caps in shopping malls across the U.S. (Photo: HOLY-CRAFT.COM.)

Hat World, Inc., a homegrown Hoosier company, manufactures sports apparel and operates retail stores primarily under the LIDS brand, a familiar mecca for team caps in shopping malls across the U.S. (Photo: HOLY-CRAFT.COM.)

Hat World, Inc., a retailer and manufacturer of hats and sports apparel, recently announced plans to expand its headquarters and distribution operations in central Indiana, creating up to 758 new jobs over the next 10 years.

The homegrown Hoosier company, which manufactures apparel and operates retail stores primarily under the LIDS brand, will invest $21.8 million to construct and equip a 150,000 square-foot office to house its headquarter operations at the Creekside Corporate Park in Zionsville, as well as lease more than 600,000 square feet of additional warehouse space in Indianapolis. Hat World currently operates out of 225,000 square feet of leased space in Park 100 and another 285,000 square feet of leased space on the northwest side of Indianapolis.

“[This] announcement continues to prove why Indiana is the best state in the nation to start or grow a business,” said Gov. Mike Pence. “Hat World took hats to new heights here in the Hoosier State when it turned a creative idea into a business that today can be found in malls across the nation.”

Hat World, which currently has more than 1,000 associates in Indiana and more than 9,000 retail associates across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, will begin relocating its headquarter operations to Zionsville and filling approximately 300 new administrative, finance, human resource and business development positions in late 2015 or early 2016. Also, the company plans to begin hiring new manufacturing, distribution and warehouse associates in Indianapolis in the third quarter of this year.

“Hat World, Inc. has been an Indiana-based company since we opened our first Hat World store in Lafayette in 1995,” said Ken Kocher, president of LIDS Sports Group. “Today, LIDS Sports Group is a leading omni-channel sports licensed retailer that caters to fans and athletes across North America and central Indiana offers the ideal location and business climate for us to operate from.”

Founded in 1995, Hat World operates more than 1,000 retail stores under the retail brands of LIDS, Locker Room by LIDS, LIDS Clubhouse and LIDS Team Sports. The company sells officially licensed and branded headwear for collegiate and professional sports teams, along with other specialty fashion products. The company’s first location in Lafayette, IN sold more than 6,000 hats during its first holiday season. In 2004, Hat World was purchased by Nashville, TN-based Genesco Inc.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered Hat World, Inc. up to $3,4 million in conditional tax credits and up to $300,000 in training grants based on the company’s job creation plans. These tax credits are performance-based, meaning until Hoosiers are hired, the company is not eligible to claim incentives. In addition, the IEDC will provide the community with up to $250,000 in infrastructure assistance from the state’s Industrial Development Grant Fund. The town of Zionsville will consider additional tax abatement and incentives. Also, the city of Indianapolis supports the project at the request of Develop Indy, a business unit of the Indy Chamber.

“Hat World has seen tremendous growth in the past decade and I’m happy to see them continue to grow here in Indy,” said Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard. “As the company continues to grow, the expansion of their manufacturing and distribution operations in Indy shows a confidence in our workforce and our central location to support their ever-growing production needs.”

BERRY PLASTICS ADDS 336 JOBS

Berry Plastics Corp. plans to relocate equipment and related production from out-of-state locations to four Indiana manufacturing operations, creating up to 336 new jobs by the end of this year.

“There’s a reason why manufacturing companies looking for a competitive advantage continue to choose Indiana,” Gov. Pence said. “As a state that works, Indiana offers a strong legacy in building products that are used around the world. We provide the knowledgeable workforce and low-cost business environment companies like Berry Plastics are seeking when they decide where to locate their next investment, proving why Indiana is a manufacturing leader.”

The company, which employs approximately 2,800 associates in Indiana and more than 15,000 worldwide, will invest more than $21 million for new infrastructure and equipment, and $10 million to transfer existing equipment from Berry Plastics facilities outside Indiana to its downtown Evansville, Evansville airport, Princeton and Richmond facilities. The company will begin filling new production jobs at these four Indiana locations early this year.

“The relocation of production equipment to Vanderburgh, Gibson and Wayne counties from other Berry facilities supports our restructuring efforts, announced in November, to optimize our manufacturing operations, maximize production efficiencies and best service our customers,” said Jon Rich, chairman and chief executive officer of Berry Plastics. “We are extremely appreciative of Indiana’s city, county and state officials for their joint support of this initiative.”

Berry’s latest expansion announcement is the company’s fourth in five years. In 2011, Berry Plastics announced plans to grow its world headquarters workforce in Evansville by 120 associates. That same year, it also made plans to add a $5 million production line to increase manufacturing capacity at its operations in Odon, IN. In 2009, the company unveiled plans to hire 360 employees and invest $150 million to expand its thermoform operations and build an additional facility in Evansville, IN. Established in 1967 as Imperial Plastics, Berry Plastics has grown into a major manufacturer of plastic packaging including containers, bottles, closures, prescription vials, trash bags, duct tape and other packaging materials.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered Berry Plastics Corporation up to $2.35 million in conditional tax credits and up to $300,000 in training grants based on the company’s job creation plans. These incentives are performance-based. The city of Evansville will consider additional tax abatement at the request of the Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville.

“Berry Plastics continues to demonstrate its commitment to our city with another major expansion that will create hundreds of new production jobs at its Evansville facility. The partnership between the city and Berry Plastics has produced new investments exceeding $64 million and a total of 395 production jobs over the past two years,” said Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke.

BIOTECH GROWS IN BLOOMINGTON

AB BioTechnologies, Inc. and TASUS Corporation have announced plans today to expand their operations in Bloomington, IN.

AB BioTechnologies, a homegrown-Hoosier company that develops formulations and manufacturing processes for injectable drug products, will invest $1.2 million to renovate and equip its current 1,100 square-foot laboratory in Bloomington. The company, which offers contract services in pharmaceutical and diagnostic formulation, thermal characterization and process development, will create up to 10 new jobs by 2016. As part of its growth strategy, AB BioTechnologies plans to begin developing processes and injectable solutions for clinical trials.

“Since opening our first laboratory, our profits have tripled every year,” said J. Jeff Schwegman, Ph.D., chief executive officer of AB BioTechnologies. “Our foothold is growing in a niche market within the pharmaceutical and diagnostic industries, leading to this expansive growth. The wealth of qualified candidates coming out of both Indiana University and Ivy Tech, coupled with Indiana’s low cost of doing business and high quality of life, made Bloomington the perfect place for our expansion. Life science companies are dominating the landscape of Bloomington and we’re thrilled to be part of this movement.”

AB BioTechnologies plans to begin hiring scientists, project managers and accounting associates early this year. Interested candidates can learn more by visiting www.ab-biotech.com.

TASUS, a Japan-based manufacturer of plastic interior and exterior automotive parts, will invest $2.8 million to renovate its current 105,000 square-foot Bloomington production facility and expand its distributed products warehouse and North American headquarters operations. As part of the expansion, the company will lease and equip a 9,000 square-foot facility to house its administrative offices and create up to five new jobs by 2016.

“Looking forward, as a company we knew we had to expand,” said Melanie Hart, president of TASUS. “Our distributed products division was growing and we physically needed more space. I’m pleased that we were able to keep that growth here in Indiana; we are well placed geographically to reach our customers and continue growing with the help of our skilled workforce.”

TASUS, which currently employs more than 180 Hoosiers and nearly 600 associates across North America, began hiring sales and research and development associates in December.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered AB BioTechnologies, Inc. up to $350,000 in conditional tax credits and up to $20,000 in training grants based on the company’s job creation plans. TASUS Corporation was offered up to $120,000 in conditional tax credits and up to $380,000 in training grants based on the company’s job creation plans. These tax credits are performance-based. Monroe County will consider tax abatement for AB BioTechnologies, which is supported by the Bloomington Economic Development Corporation. The city of Bloomington also supports TASUS’ project.

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