A sleek, modern waiting area greets visitors as they enter the new corporate office of American Licorice in La Porte, Indiana. A curving, metal-link curtain softly separates the waiting area from the adjacent workplace, its muted colors of red, white and brown mirroring the color scheme of the comfortable button-tufted seating arranged beneath the vibrant, circular light suspended overhead.

Nearly a year in the making, the redevelopment is the latest example of improvements made possible by the infrastructure investments that the City of La Porte has made to the Thomas Rose industrial park, including new roads and the expansion of rail service in the area. American Licorice currently leases the building from Space Center, a privately-held industrial development and investment company.

Tom Casey is president of Space Center.

“In 2015, we did a long-term lease expansion, which was American Licorice’ commitment to the building on the original 280,000 square feet. With the help of the city, we expanded the rail which secured the tenant even more, and they later expanded into the Graphic Packaging Warehouse, which was another 80,000 square feet. Soon thereafter, we agreed to this office expansion. American Licorice is currently one of the largest tenants in La Porte, occupying over 300,000 square feet.”

“This space was vacant and unimproved,” Casey said. “It was old, 1970’s Whirlpool office space that had no heat or air conditioning. With the addition of this 17,000 square foot office space, American Licorice’s lease has been extended through 2033, which demonstrates their long-term commitment to the city of La Porte.”

Made possible through a joint investment between American Licorice, Space Center and the La Porte Urban Enterprise Association, the redesigned office space features an open environment concept, with a fun, inviting workspace. “Huddle rooms” – small, private rooms feature flat panel monitors, internet access, conferencing capabilities, and even a dry-erase wall for hashing out ideas – set off the main work area. The completely remodeled lunchroom is decked out with stainless steel fixtures, brick accents, treadmill desks, and a lounge area. Expansive glass windows connect the lunchroom to the large courtyard and adjacent walking path, which winds through a nearby wooded area and is available for use by other local employers as well. There is an on-site library that also features a planogram wall, where displays can be tested out to see what layout works best for each particular vendor, as well as a large conference room, complete with interactive screen and privacy screens. There is even a workout area available which, in addition to the walking path, serves as testament to American Licorice’ commitment to promoting a healthier lifestyle.

Tracy Connors is head of IT at American Licorice.

“Our goal is to attract and retain younger employees,” Connors said. “In 2014, American Licorice moved their corporate office from Bend, Oregon here to La Porte. Since then, we have outgrown that original space, so we decided to expand within the building. Our goal was to create an environment that would be inclusive to all of our associates.”

Local contractor Larson-Danielson was chosen to facilitate the renovation.

Bert Cook serves as Executive Director of the Greater La Porte Economic Development Corporation.

“Every community is looking to attract key people. This is the type of thing that we hope will attract new employees, especially younger employees who might have certain expectations as to the type of office space they would like to work in,” Cook said.

“Not only is American Licorice one of our greatest employers, they are huge community stewards. It’s absolutely, hands-down the coolest office space in La Porte.”

Mayor Mark Krentz of La Porte was excited to see the changes.

“I am super proud of American Licorice. They are not only a great company, but they are great citizens here in our community, as well. It’s an honor for me to be part of this expansion,” Krentz said.

Bert Cook hopes that the renovation will showcase what can be done through the cooperation of local government and business.

“We are hopeful that this will serve as an example of what is possible, what people can expect to find right here in La Porte,” Cook said.

You can find American Licorice online at https://www.americanlicorice.com