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EDC wants to build distribution center

The Harrison County Board of Commissioners Monday evening, Nov. 19, approved a request of $5 million from the county’s Economic Development Corp. director, Darrell Voelker, for the construction of a distribution center at the Lanesville Interstate 64 interchange.
The request will have to be approved by the county council.
Voelker said the Indiana Economic Development Corp. has been working with a company interested in a Southern Indiana site for 18 months.
‘The company is already desperate,’ he said. ‘There’s several sites in Kentucky being considered.’
A contract would be signed with the company before any money would be spent to buy land or build the structure, Voelker said.
Harrison County was eliminated from discussion, Voelker said, because its Industrial Park, just north of Corydon, was considered to be too far from the UPS air hub in Louisville. However, the county was put back in play with the recent activity at the Lanesville interchange by the Town of Lanesville and Regional Sewer District board taking steps to bring a sanitary sewer system to the area.
The location is now being considered for the project, which was dubbed ‘Project Journey’ by the IEDC. Voelker said everything regarding the project is confidential at this point.
The county’s EDC will use the $5 million, if approved by the council, to prepare the site for the company to use at the end of next year. The company would pay the EDC a reduced rate to lease the building/property, and the EDC would pay the county back for everything except for the purchase of the land. The company would eventually purchase the building, Voelker said.
The undisclosed company would employ 35 employees to start, Voelker said.
‘As the research and production operations come online, Project Journey estimates include 113 employees in 2017 and 170 in 2019,’ Voelker said. ‘The distribution center employee wages will range from $12 to $17 per hour, and the average wage of all employees after the research and production phases are in place will range from $27 to $32 per hour.’
Commissioner James Goldman said one of the main benefits of the riverboat gaming funds was economic development and, so far, not much riverboat money has been used for economic development. He said he thought this was a good opportunity to do just that, if the company is viable.
‘So far, everything’s extremely encouraging,’ Voelker said. ‘I can’t say a lot about it.’
Goldman said he didn’t want to sit on it and wait a month when the opportunity could be gone.
‘I think it’s prudent to pass on to the council and trust in them to make the right decision,’ Goldman said.
Commissioner Carl (Buck) Mathes made the motion to send the request to the council, and Commissioner Jim Klinstiver seconded.
In other business last week, the board finalized the county’s takeover of the two-mile fringe area from the Town of Corydon.
Goldman asked county planner Eric Wise why the plan commission sent the request without a recommendation to which Wise said the commission felt it was the right thing to do since the Town of Corydon filed suit against the county for the takeover.
‘Why not wait until the courts are finished?’ Goldman asked.
Wise said the plan commission was directed by the board of commissioners to present the takeover documents at its December meeting.
Mathes made the motion to finalize the takeover, and Klinstiver seconded. Goldman voted against because he wanted to wait and see what the courts decide. The county’s appointments to the Corydon zoning board, Dr. Len Waite and Robert Walker, are now void.
Mathes also made a motion to have an engineering firm give a proposal for the creation of a bypass for New Middletown, instead of completing phase three of the New Middletown-Elizabeth Road project. Mathes said trucks have a hard time turning in the town.
The board also removed maintenance director David Simon from management oversight of the custodians of the county. Penny Yates was put in charge of all custodians immediately and until further notice, Goldman said.
Other additional appropriations passed on to the council include nearly $24,000 for Auditor Karen Engleman for a video/audio record system for public meetings which will allow the county to live stream such meetings; $15,000 for contractual services for EEOC work; $14,000 for voter registration, postage and poll worker meals for the clerk; and $10,000 for autopsy fees for the coroner.
The commissioners’ next meeting will be Monday at 8:30 a.m. at the Government Center in south Corydon.