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CACEDA moves ahead on Build Ready site plans

Group has begun study to determine where the site will be in Green River Commerce Park, best size for project, which will cost approximately $1 per square foot, far less than the cost of a spec building for the industrial park. Plan endorsed by Judge Stephens and Mayor Hardwick.
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By Ed Waggener

Mr. Will McDowell, Industrial Development Manager of the Kentucky Economic Development Authority, met with the The Columbia/Adair County Economic Development Authority at its regular monthly meeting, Thursday, March 12, 2015, to discuss the CACEDA'S efforts make Adair County an early innovator in a Kentucky idea, the Build Ready Site, to enhance for prospects for prospective employers.

Both Judge Stephens and Mayor Hardwick enthusiastic about plan

Both Mayor Curtis Hardwick and Adair County Judge Executive Mike Stephens attended the meeting, with Dan Antle, the authority's chair, presiding and CACEDA board members Anthony Janes, Ann Martin, Mark Dykes and Randy Burns in attendance. Judge Stephens was accompanied by his administrations point person for economic development, Deputy CJE Holly Grimsley in attendance. Unlike so many meetings in the past, this one was completed with action steps outlined for getting a Build Ready Site in Green River Commerce Park.

Mayor Hardwick pledges City of Columbia backing

Mayor Hardwick told the group that he had always favored having a spec building ready for a prospective employer, when he was serving as mayor in earlier terms, but it never quite came about. "I'm definitely in favor of having a Build Ready Site," he said, after hearing McDowell's presentation.

Many communities around us already have spec buildings, shells of fixed square footage, ready for prospects to finish. In many cases, that gives a huge advantage.

However, for a fraction of the cost, MCDowell said, a community can have a Build Ready site, which has the advantage of greater flexibility, at a much lower price. While the cost will depend on a number of factors, Build Ready Sites can be created for approximately $1 per square foot.

Using that estimate, the local authority will be studying sites in neighboring communities to see where gaps may exist, select a location for a Build Ready site, determine the best square footage to market, and do the preparatory work to get it underway. Environmental studies would be complete, and the site will be within 2,000 feet of an existing roadway.

With a Build Ready Site, he said, Adair County will be raise its prospects for being shown to a prospective employer up a notch. He said that the ideal situation is to have a building ready for an employer, but the Build Ready Site program will be the next best thing.

Strategic location on highways an advantage

McDowell was asked about the advantages and disadvantages he saw for Columbia, including the road system - with Columbia's strategic location on the Cumberland Parkway and on the short cut route between Elizabethtown and Chattanooga, and the prospect of Heartland Parkway being upgraded between Columbia and Lebanon, first, then Lebanon to the Bluegrass Parkway and eventually to I-64, and the answer was that this is, indeed a major advantage. He said that companies are looking for transportation advantages both for inbound and outbound materials.

Elevation from 'distressed community' has pluses & minuses

McDowell was asked about Adair County's elevation from a distressed community, and the prospect for a change in Area Development alignment - Adair County may become a part of the Bowling Green sphere of influence - and about any disadvantages in not being one of the SOAR core areas. He said that there are advantages and disadvantages to both.

When completed, Green River Commerce Park's first Build Ready site will have environmental concerns, utilities issues, and many of the engineering concerns out of the way. And, while most prospects will want an ideal structure just waiting to move in, this can be the next best thing for them, and the best thing for a prospect who is willing to wait a few weeks to get a built to order facility built. McDowell said that, while a spec building may be an advantage when move in time is a critical consideration, the Build Ready Site is more affordable and more flexible. There are advantages to both.

Jeff Arnold would do engineering work on contingency basis

The engineering for the site will like be done in with a contingency engineering agreement with Jeff Arnold's Bowling Green based firm, who would do the engineering work on a contingency basis, Judge Stephens said. There would be no upfront costs, Judge Stephens said, but Arnold would be paid when a prospect is realized for the Build Ready Site. Arnold was the consulting firm for Holladay Place shopping center, anchored by the Columbia Super Walmart store. He had also done earlier work on plans for Green River Commerce Park, and so would have an advantage of familiarity with the site.

CJE, Deputy CJE studying private/public partnerships

Judge Stephens said that he and Grimsley have been studying private/public partnerships, and cited the HILLP spec building on the Lebanon Bypass as one example, and buildings and Build Ready Sites in Glasgow by the Alliance Corporation as another. He said that might be a prospect for Green River Commerce Park.

East Kentucky Power connection a factor

Mr. Antle told the group that Adair County might tap into favorable loans made available through the East Kentucky Power Company, with the help of Rodney Hitch of Russell Springs. This, he said, might offset any handicap from no longer being designated a distressed county.

CACEDA mobilizes to seize moment

When it is added, it will be among the first in Kentucky. Build Ready Sites are already in place in Henderson and Bowling Green, and Glasgow. Mitch Ruscitti, Project Manager for the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, who had been on the agenda, did not attend, but will be in Columbia for a later meeting. He will be here later for a "Community Day" forum.

This story was posted on 2015-03-13 05:56:47
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