When Brian Asher’s wife suggests they go downtown to grab some dinner, it used to mean making the 30-minute drive to St. Elmo’s in Indianapolis.

Nowadays, the couple has to confirm with one another which downtown they’re going to.

One year after the completion of the Public Square renovations, Asher said during Thursday’s Shelby County Development Corp. annual meeting that he and his wife have been frequenting local restaurants when they go out.

“Downtown has changed,” Asher, the Shelby County Development Corporation Director, told the group of local business leaders and politicians at Blessings Opera House, which was one of the newly remodeled facilities. “The meaning of ‘downtown’ has changed. She’s thinking downtown Shelbyville. So now we have to clarify what downtown is. In the past, it’s always been downtown Indianapolis. Now we have (local) places we like to go to. That’s something that’s changed for us, and we hope has changed for a lot of people here as well.”

For years, there was talk within the local government about doing something to revitalize downtown Shelbyville, Mayor Tom DeBaun said.

“For a number of years, we’ve talked about chicken and egg,” he said. “Gosh, we wish something would happen. Gee, if only something would happen. If this happens, then that happens. We decided we were tired of waiting on the chicken. We were going to lay the egg ourselves. And that was in the form of downtown.”

Downtown Shelbyville was one of several discussion points Asher mentioned in the 2022 SCDC update.

In a recent Indiana Business Journal article, the publication stated that home building continued to crater in central Indiana as interest rates continued to increase. But Asher said the article ends by stating that Shelby County was the exception.

Permits tripled in October compared to other counties.

Local population growth has the potential to follow Boone County’s footsteps, he said. That county’s population has risen 23 percent in the last 10 years.

“I don’t think that’s out of the realm for something we can do, some of the stuff we have going right now,” he said. “Just with downtown and some of the jobs we have available, some of the growth area. (It’s) starting to come in this direction.”

Over the last three years, housing permits doubled. At the current rate, this year’s rate tripled.

Asher said Shelby County is on site selectors’ radar when looking at possible locations. On Wednesday, he met with eight real estate brokers who wanted to know more about everything going on in the county.

“Every time we meet with some of the surrounding counties, the words out of their mouth is ‘you guys are really kicking butt down here,’” he said, crediting the team around him and the partners involved.

There are 1,200 new homes and 250 apartments planned over the next five years, as well as two new Marriott branded hotels.

The city and county’s 2022 investments total more than $890 million this year and a record 112 industrial project opportunities have come before SCDC totaling more than $35 billion worth of investment and 47,594 jobs, according to Asher.

And he noted the amenities and strengths the community offers when pursuing opportunities, including a two-mile expansion of the Blue River trails, the new MHP Medical Center sleep study center and local school districts.

In the last five years, college attainment has increased by more than 10 percent.

“If we did a study, I think we would find Shelby County way above everybody else,” Asher said.

This year, there have been 33 site visits with three more scheduled this month.

And a group of Shelbyville representatives, including Asher, recently returned from a visit to Japan. The group met with Japanese businesses, representatives from sister city Shizuoka, Japan, a prospective business and a business interested in expanding locally. More details on that expansion will be announced at a later time, Asher said.

There are other announcements that will be made at a later time, including multiple projects planned in Morristown and one off of Tom Hession Drive. Those announcements are expected in early 2023.

Asher also talked about the $20 million received through the READI Projects. Shelbyville and Shelby County joined with other counties and cities to request funding for project ideas and the group as a whole received $20 million.

Shelbyville and Shelby County will receive $6 million of that funding, which will go toward an indoor sports complex, the Nick and Julia Runnebohm Early Learning Center and The Mills Apartments at the Porter Center.

Other recent developments at sites off Interstate 74 include operations by HIS Constructors, Blue Star Redi Mix and Five Below; construction by Browning Investments for a distribution center; Sunbeam Development Corp. considering making an investment of more than $200 million; and a $1 million grant from Indiana Economic Development Corporation and $1.6 million grant from the Indiana Department of Transportation for infrastructure improvements.

Asher thanked those who have been involved with the accomplishments of 2022.

“It takes a village to do some of the stuff we’re doing right now,” he said.

In 2023, he said he expects a lot of attention to turn toward Exits 109 and 116 off Interstate 74 and the continued development around Pleasant View.
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