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LEBANON, Ind. — Boone County is growing and it’s growing quickly, says the mayor of Lebanon Matt Gentry.

It’s a process he says both the county and city have been planning for over the last five years ever since he was first elected mayor. The county will soon be the home of a new LEAP Innovation and Research District, which will include a $2.1 billion investment by Eli Lilly and Company.

Lilly is planning to build two new manufacturing plants and with it create 500 jobs.

“This is a big vision of the state,” Gentry told Inside Indiana Business. “How do we compete on a national level for these large, big investments? They want shovel-ready type sites for this. The state looked around and said ‘we don’t have enough inventory.’ For a variety of factors, they chose Lebanon!”

Gentry anticipates an unprecedented amount of growth for the small Hoosier city in the middle of Boone County.

“This will have ripple effects,” he said.” We’ll see additional residential needs. We’ll see growth there. More restaurants, opportunities, amenities, things people want from the community. They want to see more of those opportunities from the places they want to live and raise their family.”

But the ever-glaring problem still facing the state in making these investments happen is a lack of talent to fill these new jobs. Gentry said the state is currently “trying to wrestle with it.”

As a graduate of Purdue University just up the road from Lebanon, he says Indiana has a great research university in Purdue and that the state should keep investing in new ways to harness the potential of colleges in Indiana to make people want to stay and work in Indiana.