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St. Joseph County leaders move forward with multibillion dollar data center project

The shaded of the map marks the 636 acres county officials seek to zone as industrial. The plot is bounded by Gordon and Strawberry roads.
Map provided, St. Joseph County Plan Commission
The shaded of the map marks the 636 acres county officials seek to zone as industrial. The plot is bounded by Gordon and Strawberry roads.

Though St. Joseph County officials continue to obfuscate the identity of a company seeking to buy nearly 650 acres of land near New Carlisle, plans to bring a massive new facility to the area are moving forward.

Officials are touting the project as being on the same order of magnitude on the General Motors-Samsung EV battery plant which will see an estimated $3.6 billion in investments and create over 1,600 jobs.

As GM prepares for construction of its electric battery plant on 600 acres of land just east of New Carlisle, St. Joseph County officials are taking steps to advance the new project.

This week, the county’s plan commission recommended zoning 640 acres of land south of the current Indiana Enterprise Center between Gordon and Strawberry roads as industrial. Final approval for that rezoning will go before the county council next week.

County officials, however, have been secretive about what would be built on that site and who would build it. St. Joseph County’s Director of Development Bill Schalliol said one possible deal county staff are working towards involves a major company to build a data center. That center would also include around 280-acre parcel just southwest of Edison Road and Larrison Drive.

“There’s two or three users that are interested in that property and properties in the IEC, whether they’re suppliers for GM, whether they’re data-centric users or other users,” Schalliol said.

Schalliol did not say what the company is, though rumors have circulated that Amazon Web Services is the user looking to buy the land. Amazon has built a distribution warehouse in Elkhart in recent years, but has not yet opened that facility.

Late last year, an entity titled Razor LLC, paid the owners of the plot $1 million to be able to survey the property. At a Tuesday meeting, plan commission members asked Schalliol whether the area's aquifer could handle the demand required by a data center.

Schalliol said any land purchase would likely not go through the county as it did for the GM plant, but that the county would put together a development deal for the site later this spring.

Schalliol emphasized that county development staff are working with multiple potential buyers for the that plot of land, but said that if a data center were built on the site, it represent a welcome diversification to the area's business as most of the current IEC is manufacturing based.

"This is an opportunity to bring in another type of user and diversify the workforce," Schalliol said. "So it's not putting all the eggs in one basket, it's expanding the basket."

The next immediate step is for the county council to approve the zoning of the 640 acres to industrial and to put it give it a designation under the IEC.

At a plan commission meeting, a familiar chorus of New Carlisle residents spoke against the zoning saying that the county has broken its promise not to expand the IEC beyond its original boundaries and that there's already vacant land within the current IEC to develop.

Marek Mazurek has been with WVPE since April 2023, though he's been in Michiana for most of his life. He has a particular interest in public safety reporting. When he's not on the radio, Marek enjoys getting way too into Notre Dame football and reading about medieval English history.