EDC buys land at Lanesville interchange
The Harrison County Economic Development Corp. provided the Harrison County Council with an update May 8 that included details about the purchase of land at the Lanesville interchange of Interstate 64.
The EDC is a private nonprofit that has a contract with the county to conduct economic development activities.
May 8 through 12 was Economic Development Week.
‘We aren’t going to have a parade, don’t have a board with a lot of color on it, but we will give an update,’ Darrell Voelker, Harrison County Economic Development executive director, said.
A new action plan, with the help of The Wheatley Group in Sellersburg, was created last year.
‘The top recommendation from the Wheatley Group was to purchase land at the Lanesville interchange and further the development so it is ready for building construction,’ Tom Fields, the EDC’s director of communications and business expansion, said.
The plan identifies the interchange area as having the highest potential for new business development and job creation in the county.
The EDC recently completed the purchase of 50 acres at the interchange, Fields said, with plans to begin development on the property.
Fields detailed the main reasons for purchasing the property as follows: The 50 acres represents the best available (undeveloped) property in the county for business development; planning was conducted on the Lanesville interchange area in 2003 and included a master plan that suggests the best use of the property is a ‘higher-end business park.’ Instead of many acres of space under roof for giant distribution centers, it might be better suited for smaller, light manufacturers and for office and commercial development.
‘Now that the EDC owns the property, we can control the development,’ Fields said.
Additional planning has been completed by the EDC with real-estate brokers and site-selection consultants, and steps have been implemented to make the property more marketable.
Areva Pharmaceuticals located its distribution center at the interchange in 2014.
‘While the Areva project never promised to be a major employer, that project actually provides a great model to continue the development,’ Fields said. ‘Owning the adjacent property gives the EDC the opportunity to carry forward that plan and to attract additional employers to the Lanesville interchange.’
Fields said the EDC will conduct engineering and planning to initiate the development of the property.
‘We will then try to secure the resources to complete the development of the public roadway, extension of the sewer line and construction of the storm-drainage system to accommodate new business development.’
Fields also recapped a couple of other programs offered by the EDC.
In 2006, the revolving loan fund was created to aid small businesses.
Eight years later, he said, $438,000 was loaned from that fund.
‘That’s not too bad, but we thought we could do a lot better,’ Fields said.
So, in 2015, with help from community leaders, they tried to figure out how to loosen purse strings and spur growth, he said. It was re-branded the Small Business Loan Program, which required applicants to first meet with an Indiana Small Business Development Center adviser and have an approved business plan. The loan rate was reduced to 1.5 percent and a loan review committee was assembled of small business owners and advisers in the community. The Harrison County Community Foundation awarded $250,000 in grant funding for the program.
‘We loaned out quite a bit of it, pretty quickly,’ Fields said.
The first was to Conrad Music Service in Corydon, providing $50,000 in gap financing.
‘This quiet anchor in our community leases and services instruments for school bands in 26 counties and over 110 schools,’ Fields said.
In April of last year, the EDC introduced the Commercial Rent Subsidy Program to accelerate economic growth by helping fill vacancies in commercial buildings throughout the county. Fields said, in their experience, most businesses that fail do so from lack of planning and from the initial financial drain of launching the business. The CRS program puts an emphasis on planning and financial responsibility and provides up to $12,000 or 50 percent, whichever is less, in reducing term rent subsidy on a reimbursement basis over a two-year period.
‘The subsidy is front-loaded because that is when most businesses experience the highest financial burden and slowly reduces in reimbursement over a two-year period,’ Fields said.
Since its launch, the EDC has approved four rent subsidies.