CHICAGO — After winning the top financial advisor spot in Indiana last year, Sycamore Advisors LLC has hired a new employee and is considering another hire with an eye toward expanding beyond the state over the next few years.

The Indianapolis-based firm was the state’s top financial advisor in 2011, based largely on its role in the city’s pioneering and lucrative sale of its water and sewer systems to a private nonprofit utility. Sycamore was also among the top 10 advisors in the Midwest, according to Thomson Reuters.

The firm specializes in utility infrastructure and capital projects.

Indiana public finance veteran Diana Hamilton founded the agency after serving as the state’s public finance director from 1997 to 2003.

New hire Dario Requiz, a vice president, comes to the firm from Crowe Horwath LLP where he was a senior consultant for the government sector.

Before that Requiz was at the Indianapolis Local Public Improvement Bond Bank, the city’s borrowing arm, where he was a senior project manager for three years.

At the bond bank, he specialized in tax increment financing districts and economic development projects, and was part of a high-profile, $660 million bond deal that financed construction of Marion County’s new public safety hospital.

“So many credits flow through the bond bank that you get exposure to everything,” Requiz said.

Including Requiz, the firm will now have four employees and could add another new hire later this year, Hamilton said.

“We’ve been steadily growing since 2008,” she said. “We’re looking to grow but stay regionally focused on major capital and infrastructure programs.”

Besides Indianapolis, clients include the Indiana Finance Authority, Indianapolis Airport Authority and the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

The firm hopes to next reach into Cook County, Ill., and Louisville, Ky.

Cook County recently qualified Sycamore to work as one of its advisors, and the firm is in talks with construction firms on both sides of the Indiana and Kentucky border in an effort to become part of the massive, bi-state $2.4 billion Ohio River bridges project.

Large infrastructure developments like the Ohio River project often suffer from a disconnect between the engineering and finance sides of the project, Hamilton noted. A good financial advisor can help close that gap and ensure that the financing runs more smoothly, she said.

“Too often the engineering staff and financing team are off on their own,” Hamilton said. “But it’s much more efficient and cost-effective if the two work closely together.”

Aligning the two sides can lead to more accurate bid estimates and revenue projections, and help lower project costs by leading to more targeted bond issues that can help trim costs tied to capitalized interest or negative arbitrage, Hamilton said. “I call it just-in-time financing.”

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