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Areva worth the wait

My Opinion
Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor, Editor

It is often said that some things are worth waiting for. There’s a lot of truth to that; however, sometimes one can give up hope of ever seeing something they long for come to fruition.
Perhaps that is why so many people turned out Friday morning for the ribbon-cutting and open house at Areva Pharmaceuticals Inc. in the recently developed Planned Employment Center north of Lanesville at Exit 113 of Interstate 64.
You see, that exit, one of the few, if not the only, that leads to a county road rather than a state road, has basically sat dormant since I-64 opened in 1975.
County officials at that time, led by Peter J. Schickel of Lanesville, were able to secure the exit from the state in hopes of attracting development to Franklin Township.
Oh, a few ventures, including a small restaurant, gas company and mobile home dealer, called the exit home at one time or another, but, for the most part, the exit was just another way to and from work in Floyd County and Louisville across the Ohio River.
Despite the creation of an interchange plan in 1979 followed by an updated plan 20 years later then road improvements, the area couldn’t get any takers. However, plenty of development was taking place along I-64 an equal distance from Louisville in the other direction.
The problem with Lanesville? There was no sewer system.
Thanks to the formation of a county sewer board and funding from the county coffers, the Harrison County Economic Development Corp. and the Indiana Economic Development Corp., a sewer project was developed and a global manufacturer of pharmaceuticals was courted and agreed to relocate to the interchange.
Dozens of people, including many Franklin Township residents, gathered in the chilly shadow of the massive 60,000-square-foot building waiting for a glimpse inside the basically vacant structure. (Once the drugs are moved into the warehouse, a sterile environment is crucial, so Friday was perhaps their once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see inside.) And rather than scatter to their vehicles when a drizzle started while Victor Swaminathan, Areva’s CEO, was making remarks, they stuck it out. Fortunately, before the clouds really let loose, Swaminathan halted his prepared comments and invited everyone to go ahead and enter the building. Once inside, the presentation resumed.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Victor and his wife, Irene, Areva’s chairwoman of the board, earlier this year. While both are licensed pharmacists (Irene also is a patent attorney), they are everyday people who genuinely care about others and are looking forward to being part of the community. They also are family-oriented, as evident by a traditional ‘blessing’ ceremony that took place at the warehouse late last month. The couple invited local officials to witness the event that was attended by many of the couple’s relatives and friends. Their two young sons freely roamed in and out of the ceremony area.
Areva plans to construct two additional buildings in the coming years, one for research and development, the other for manufacturing, providing the possibility of about 170 good-paying jobs by 2019.
Harrison County, let alone Franklin Township, hasn’t had anything this good come along since its gaming facility opened in 1998. Areva and its owners should be a welcomed asset to the area.
Let’s hope we don’t have to wait as long for the next one to make Exit 113 its home.