Capital Avenue Economic Development Area
The Capital Avenue Economic Development Area was established in 2001 to help facilitate a major economic development proposed for construction on land adjacent to the existing AM General HMMWV (HMMWV, pronounced Humvee and often referred to as Hummer) production facility on McKinley Avenue. In 2000, St. Joseph County and City of Mishawaka officials were presented an opportunity to partner with AM General and General Motors to assist in creating a development ready industrial site to allow General Motors to build a new automobile manufacturing facility that would produce the Hummer H2 sport utility vehicle which was a large SUV that is based on a modified GMT820 platform that is the basis of the Chevrolet Tahoe as well as other GM pickup trucks.
The St. Joseph County Redevelopment Commission established an economic development area so that a Tax Increment Finance (TIF) District could be established around the proposed site that would collect tax increment to pay on a bond that would be used to pay for needed infrastructure and land acquisition that would be required to accommodate the project. The City of Mishawaka provided staff support and managed the property acquisition process acquiring and relocating property owners adjacent to the proposed site. The City also extended utilities to the proposed development site.
In 2002, the H2 facility opened and began manufacturing the H2 vehicle. The H2 was nominated for the North American Truck of the Year award for 2003. A four-door pickup truck version with a with midgate that opens the vehicle's interior to the external cargo bed was introduced for 2005 as the "H2 SUT" (sport utility truck). During this time, the adjacent MV-1 facility began construction of a civilian Hummer model (dubbed by GM as the H1) until June 2006 when it ceased production of that vehicle model. The H1 was a popular vehicle owned by many celebrities and sports athletes, most notably Arnold Schwarzenegger. Based on changing customer needs, the H2 ceased production in 2009.
The Capital Avenue EDA is a prime area for industrial and commercial development. Many of the key elements to facilitate such development are present, including major electrical service, gas service, large land parcels, and suitable soil conditions. In 2018, the County will be clear of all bond debt obligations from the H2 project and will begin a process to identify projects and project sites that could use targeted resources to assist in improvements in road, highway and rail access as well as the extension of municipal water and sewer service which would allow for this area to see moderate to higher growth in commercial and industrial site development for the foreseeable future.