This is the first in a series of profiles and timely updates on local business communities.
Tippecanoe County, Indiana, has a population of approximately 200,000 and an above-average education level within Indiana thanks mainly to the influence of Purdue University West Lafayette. Purdue employs approximately 7,000 people. Subaru of Indiana is the second-largest employer with about 6,000 employees.
The cities of West Lafayette and Lafayette are divided by the Wabash River. Lafayette, IN is the county seat and is located between Indianapolis, IN and Chicago, IL, just to the west of I-65 interstate. The city limits are surrounded by rural subdivisions, forests, streams, and fertile farmland in gently rolling terrain. Numerous other state highways and railroads intersect each other within the county.
Aerospace, agriculture, biotechnology, medical, advanced manufacturers, and various other small businesses cover the county. As of October 2020, major employers are open but running modified shifts. Students at Purdue West Lafayette have approximately 20% of their classes in person. Subaru and Wabash National are running at less than full-tilt compared to pre-COVID stay-at-home orders. Unemployment continues to pace at slightly better than the statewide average of 8.5%.
Local officials decided to convert Lafayette’s Main street into an extra outdoor dining space for weekend dining at downtown restaurants for September and October. The farmer’s market drew good crowds this fall. Sporting events are attempting to resume with local high school students and college games being delayed or canceled because of COVID results. Some commercial real estate leases are changing hands, and local construction and home prices continue to climb.
In this community, we highlight two businesses. The first is a private company, Lafayette Instruments. They are the largest producer of polygraph machines in the nation. Jennifer D. Rider leads the company as president and has since 2015. Our second standout company is BioAnalytical Systems, Inc (BASI). Pete Kissinger founded the company in 1974. Today it is a small, publicly-traded, scientific instrument and testing company. During the past few years, a turnaround has been conducted by Bob Leasure. Leasure invited Kissinger to return after a previous falling out. The stock price has responded by an 8x increase from its lows just a few years prior. Congratulations to both firms on the continued success and promising futures.