The History of the Elwood Industrial Development Corporation & Elwood Community Development Corporation

The corporation is formed …

The Elwood Industrial Development Corporation was established in 1960 under the guidance of the Elwood Chamber of Commerce. The purpose of the corporation was to increase growth in the Elwood community by attracting industrial and commercial businesses to the Elwood community. The original corporation (EIDC) was formed with the leadership of George Stevens, Glenn Auxter, and Charles J. Jehlen. In addition, a board of directors was formed consisting of five business leaders from the Elwood community – Joseph L. Beaty (Public Utility Executive), J. Phil Copher (Funeral Home Owner), George F. Stevens (Manufacturer), Riley Sharp (Attorney), and Walter A. Gillson (Retail Executive). 4000 shares of stock in the newly founded corporation were offered for sale at a cost of $25 per share to local business owners and residents in order to produce working capital for the new entity. The idea behind the sale of shares was to make EIDC a corporation that was actually owned by the community. Although ownership of shares would not legally produce dividends or financial gain to the shareholders, the return on their investment would be the intended growth of the community in the future from the efforts of the corporation.

The role of EIDC as stated in its articles of incorporation dated January 7, 1960 would be:

“To advance the commercial and industrial interests of the City of Elwood, Indiana. To purchase, hold, own, improve, manage, operate, lease as lessee or as lessor, sell, convey and/or mortgage real estate of every kind …”.

Our first investment …

In 1961, EIDC purchased a 30-acre plot of land as the site for its first industrial park. Later, four acres of land was sold to the City of Elwood for a new water supply field. It was not until 1966 that EIDC constructed its first building on the site and then later leased the structure to RGF Manufacturing Company. The building that they occupied was approximately 30,000 square feet. RGF Manufacturing enjoyed many years of occupancy and use of the EIDC industrial building, but eventually vacated the site. Between the years of 1966 and 1981, EIDC remained a community corporation, but experienced a period of virtually no growth. In 1982, the building was leased to Var Chem Industries of Indiana, and they remain in that building today. Over the years of their occupancy, EIDC has made significant improvements to the building including building expansions, improved on-site roadways, new office space, exterior improvements, and roof renovations.

Our Progress through Investment …

In 1983, the corporation decided to sell a small portion of our land to the CentraMet Co. so that they could construct a new facility for their business

In 1986, EIDC purchased the historical, former R.L. Leeson building in downtown Elwood. The Leeson building was a three-story structure rich with Elwood heritage having formerly housed the well-known R.L. Leeson Department Store. EIDC completely remodeled the building to the specifications of the new tenant – Spurgeon’s Department Store. This new tenant was a welcome addition to Elwood, which had suffered from continued vacancies in the downtown business district. Spurgeon’s brought now only shoppers to area, but many new jobs. Spurgeon’s occupied the building for many years before the company closed its entire business operation – including the Elwood store.

In late 1986, EIDC purchased land at the corner of South B and Anderson Street in Elwood and cleared the property of unsightly, outdated buildings in need of much repair. Later, construction of a modern, one-level office building was completed which has housed businesses such as Visiting Nurse, an appliance store, attorney’s offices, and now houses medical offices related to St. Vincent Mercy Hospital – which is the current owner of the property.

In 1987, EIDC purchased the former Leeson Hardware Store in the 1500 block of South A Street at a public auction. Within 30 days, the property was sold to a local businessman who completely renovated the property into an attractive office complex. Since that time, the property has housed medical offices, business offices, and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

In 1990, in cooperation with Indiana & Michigan Power Company, EIDC constructed a 32,000 square feet building industrial building which was leased for storage and later purchased by ELSA Corporation in Elwood.

In 1994, EIDC purchased property again on South A Street behind Star Bank. One structure was repaired and the remainder of the lot was cleared for paving. This property was then traded to Star Bank for another property located on the Northeast corner of South B and Anderson Streets. Star Bank benefited from this trade by adding needed parking adjacent to their location, and EIDC obtained a corner lot. EIDC then constructed another one-level office building similar to the building it constructed across the street. This office building was later sold to St. Vincent Mercy Hospital and currently houses numerous medical offices.

In 1998, EIDC sold 5 acres in the original industrial park to Walker construction for their offices and storage facility.

In 1996, EIDC sold 4.5 acres to a company who erected a rental storage facility at the end of South J Street. The business remains there today.

In 1997, EIDC purchased 14 acres of land at the Northwest corner of State Road 28 and 37. 9.5 acres of this land was then sold to the Hill Company for their seed business, which remains there today. In addition, 4.5 acres of this land was sold to Ron Vielee where he constructed a new shopping center and retail building. This site is currently occupied by St. Vincent Mercy Hospital offices, China Buffet, Verizon, Show Me the Tan, and Fish Net Restaurant.

In 2000, EIDC finalized the purchase of 54 acres of land on the Southeast corner of State Roads 28 and 37. Since 2000, EIDC worked diligently to develop this land working with realtors, real estate developers, and city officials. In mid-2005, Mr. Brian Reichart expressed interest in this property for possible future use by Red Gold, Inc. The sale of this land to Red Gold was finalized in late 2005.

In late 2004 and early 2005, the sale of a parcel of land that EIDC received in a previous transaction in the 1400 block of South A Street was successfully sold to Michelle Richardson. This site is the location of a new building housing the Key West Tanning Company, which finalized construction in 2005.

In 2004, EIDC successfully sold one of its largest commercial buildings on the original industrial park property to Marble House, Inc. who leased the building for several years prior to the purchase. Marble House has been a tremendous asset to the Elwood community with its product being in high demand and the employment of over 30 people at its Elwood facility.

EIDC becomes a Non-for-Profit Corporation – ECDC …

In late 2004, the board of directors of EIDC made the decision to become a Non-for-Profit corporation for tax purposes. Because the original corporation was formed with the premise that all profits would be reinvested in future projects, and that no stockholder would benefit financially from the purchase of shares of EIDC; it was the consensus of the directors that EIDC was already operating very similar to a Non-for-Profit corporation – without any of the tax advantages. For this reason, the conversion of EIDC from a For-Profit corporation to a Non-for-Profit corporation was finalized in 2005. The original stockholders of EIDC were provided notice of this change and previous stockholders now became “certificate-holders” of the new corporation.

With the change of the corporate status came the introduction of a new name for the corporation to reflect current objectives. The corporation was re-named Elwood Community Development Corporation (ECDC) from this point forward. The board felt that this name accurately reflected the current objectives of the corporation noting the shift from Elwood being strictly an industrial community to a retail / light industrial community. During this time, the board also felt it was necessary to expand membership of the board from 7 members to 11 members.

The four new “Advisory” members would consist of A) A person appointed by the Mayor of Elwood, B) A representative of the Elwood Ministerial Association, C) A representative of the Elwood School Corporation, and D) A representative of the Elwood Chamber of Commerce.

In recent years, the ECDC board members have endeavored to gain input from various sectors of the Elwood business community.  Although this has been a challenge due to the small pool of business people and organizations from which to draw from – the current board of directors consists of a diverse cross-section of business people and leaders from our community.

As ECDC moves into the future, its focus will be on the continued improvement of the Elwood community and the successful management of our current assets. It is the hope of the board that this will be done through growth in our retail sector, protection of our business district buildings from negative or substandard tenants, and the addition of additional employers in the Elwood community.

The history of EIDC and ECDC is a shining example of what a group of like-minded business people within a community can accomplish together for the growth of their community.  The directors look forward to continuing this strong tradition of growth and elevate the Elwood community to even higher levels in the future.