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MERRILLVILLE | Gov. Mike Pence on Friday made his first major job creation announcement in the region since taking office.

He joined officials from Horizon Financial Management LLC, a medical billing company in Merrillville, as they described plans to invest $1.9 million to lease, renovate and equip 20,000 square feet in the AmeriPlex at the Crossroads complex, about two miles from Horizon's current working facility.

With help from state and local incentives, the company plans to expand operations and create up to 216 jobs by 2016. 

The company has occupied about 1,800 square feet on the top floor of the Chase building, 8585 Broadway, for about eight years and has experienced steady growth, said Frank Termini, managing partner at Horizon Financial Management.  

The Merrillville Town Council in December approved a 10-year real estate and personal property tax abatement for the company.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp., the state's department of commerce, offered Horizon Financial Management up to $1.9 million in conditional tax credits and up to $100,000 in training grants based on the company's job creation plans.

The tax credits are performance-based, meaning until Hoosiers are hired, the company is not eligible to claim incentives, according to the IEDC.

"Our ambition is to make job creation job one," Pence said. 

Merrillville Town Councilman Shawn Pettit said by offering tax incentives, the town supports new jobs.

"One of the things we strive for is job creators," he said.

Pence said he is committed to finding more ways to support new and growing businesses in Indiana, and he hopes to be a part of similar job creation announcements around the state.

Pence said Indiana is a good state in which to do business but it needs to do a better job of spreading the word. He said CEOs tell him Indiana needs to toot its own horn more often.  

The billing company plans to move its operations to the new facility when construction is completed at the end of August.