Economic Development Group looking for structural work proposals | New

On Friday, members of the county’s leading economic development organization took another step forward in the construction of a shell building, arguably the most attractive tool for attracting new businesses and industries.

Kirk Bouchie, chair of the Knox County Indiana County Economic Development Site Development Committee, told board members as they gathered at the Green Activities Center on the University of Vincennes campus that they would soon seek official proposals from companies interested in partnering with the county to construct a shell building in US Industrial Park 41, specifically at the corner of Industrial Boulevard and Keller Road across from INDOT and Farbest Foods Inc.

Bouchie said the organization’s executive committee recently decided to ask CEO Chris Pfaff to pursue a request for proposals from the handful of companies that Knox County Indiana Economic Development spoke to last year about the possible construction of a shell building.

“We’re not doing anything right now that makes any commitment,” Bouchie told the board. “But we can have a lot more discussion about this once we get these proposals.

“This is just the next step.”

Members of the economic development organization have long been discussing the possibility of building a building in bulk, actively for a year.

In November 2020, board members met with Terre Haute-based Garmong Construction about a shell building – also referred to as a specific building – which is an increasingly popular economic development tool with breeders. of sites across the state.

Only about 20% of site selectors – people who represent key industry leaders and companies looking for an area to relocate or expand into – consider “new sites” or raw land to build on. .

Economic Development in Knox County, Indiana has about 100 shovel-ready acres for sale in US Industrial Park 41, but no wholesale buildings.

To add to the problem, the existing inventory of large empty industrial-size commercial spaces is virtually non-existent in Knox County.

The last time the organization would have built a shell building was years ago; it would later house Essex Wire until it closed in 2008.

SPS Plastics, a company specializing in recycling plastics and then marketing them on the open market, ultimately purchased the building for use as storage.

A shell building is typically built with a generic design and is adaptable to a variety of business needs. They are large, typically at least 50,000 square feet, and rough enough, often with very little or no finish, to allow the buyer to complete it as they see fit and according to their needs.

The advantage for businesses, however, is that much of the work is already done; the public services are already there, and these buildings can easily be adapted or even extended.

The packages presented by construction companies can be very different; Garmong’s, for example, is not limited to the building, as they also help market it when finished with the aim of selling it.

But such an endeavor would require patience, officials said, as these buildings can often sit on the market for years, leaving the economic development organization to carry the debt.

Either way, the organization’s leaders see it as a development tool that the county needs to thrive.

“A prospect’s entrance to a community – the front door they’re looking for – is a shell-shaped building,” Bouchie said. “Sometimes they take a different path once they get into a community, but in order for us to be able to get them on their radar, we think that’s something we should take very seriously.”

In other cases, Pfaff has reported to the board that the organization’s new nonprofit arm – led by young professionals and focused on improving quality of life – hosted its very first event. September 11th.

The new Knox Life Community Improvement Team – or, more simply, Knox Life – organized a citywide cleanup and drew a dozen teams, Pfaff said.

These teams collected 90 large bags of garbage in just four hours, dispersing to different parts of the city.

As such, the organization donated to each team – a total of $ 1,800 which was then distributed to a dozen local nonprofits.

The next Knox Life Town Cleanup – which is modeled after Burkhart Insurance’s annual Town Cleanup – is scheduled for the weekend before Thanksgiving, Pfaff said.

“These are the times of the year when people come home, so we want to schedule these cleanings ahead of these so that the community can look as good as possible,” he said.

Knox Life also recently launched a social media survey with the goal of collecting community feedback on other types of quality of life improvements people want to see.

That survey is still active, Pfaff said, and has so far gathered around a thousand respondents.

The survey is available on the organization’s Facebook page, which can be found by searching for “Knox Life”.

Nash Dunn, founder of the First City Music Festival, also took the opportunity to speak with board members on Friday about some improvements the nonprofit wants to make to the French Commons, the great space. located near Second and Willow streets on which the Esprit de Le Rendez-vous de Vincennes also takes place every year.

The First City Music Festival, an American roots-style festival taking place this weekend, had its inaugural year in 2019, but the event was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

They haven’t been idle, however, Nash said of his many volunteers.

They have sponsored musical acts at other events such as the Knox County Fair as well as the Watermelon Festival and also hosted another one-day rock festival, Electric River, at French Commons in June.

The band spent thousands of dollars to build a structure on the stage there, and they created the Evan Twitty Music and Art Scholarship for VU students.

Nash was passionate about the fact that he believed “the power of music” can help solve one of the biggest problems plaguing Knox County – population loss, as evidenced by the latest US Census figures. .

He implored the board members to support the events held there, whether it was the First City Music Festival, the Rendezvous or whatever.

They also need monetary donations as they wish to continue improving the land, especially in terms of expanding electricity.

“We need a more extensive electrical infrastructure,” he said. “The stage has power, but we still don’t have any other (permanent) lights or other electrical resources there.

“We really need it and we have some really big ideas on how to do it.”

Dunn also said the association would like to continue building another set of bathrooms.

Those who are there now, he said, were rendered “inoperative” at the end of the Rendezvous on Memorial Day weekend, which saw as large a crowd as possible.

“We really believe that these lands are underutilized in our community,” he said. “It is a place of choice.”

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