Members of the Knox County Development Corp. continue to make improvements to the U.S. 41 Industrial Park in the hope of enticing new business and industry.
KCDC president Kent Utt told board members Friday morning at Vincennes University's Isaac K. Beckes Student Union during their monthly meeting that the organization has already received inquiries from two interested parties, although he can't share any specific details on who they are or what they're looking for.
“We'll see what comes of those,” Utt said.
And in an effort to better market the newly-expanded park, KCDC's marketing committee is looking at ways to improve signage, both along U.S. 41 and inside the park itself.
Two years ago, the park's only billboard along the adjacent highway was damaged by a passing storm, and it hasn't been replaced.
“But we're going to make that happen,” Utt said Friday, adding that Jerry Zeigler with Ewing Printing Co. is currently putting together some ideas.
Utt said they also want to add signs that would both direct traffic to the businesses that already call the U.S. 41 Industrial Park home — Futaba Indiana of America, Farbest Foods Inc., MacAllister Rentals, etc. — and to a layout of available acres.
“Right now we just don't' have any (signage) off U.S. 41, and that's a heavily-traveled area,” Utt said. “We want to tell people that we have acreage available for development.”
KCDC officials also continue to push to make the more than 160 acres currently available in the industrial park shovel-ready.
Utt announced last month that the organization had purchased at auction 125 acres of farm ground for just over $1 million, property it then swapped for a 63-acre tract dubbed the Yochum property.
Much of the KCDC's available ground already has the state's highest-rated "gold" shovel-ready status — meaning things like soil borings, environmental inspections, surveys and even connection to local utilities is already done and the site is, for the most part, ready for construction.
KCDC can make these investments up front to make the property more attractive to those wanting to buy.
Utt said while they've made some progress on getting this new acreage shovel-ready, there are still some hurdles left to be cleared.
But because “other acquisitions” of land remain on the table, Utt said they'll hold off on finalizing the process.
Utt said KCDC has invested millions of dollars in recent years installing the infrastructure needed to better cater to business and industry wanting to locate there, so it just makes sense to buy up as much available ground around there as possible.
“We need to take advantage of the infrastructure we have in place,” Utt said. “We've already incurred major expenses in that area, $6.2 million alone in water and sewer for Farbest. So we need to take advantage of the (ground in) proximity.
“I have a meeting soon (about another possible purchase),” Utt said. “So we'll get more in the weeds to see what that offer could look like.”
Utt said the organization also must set covenants for the new 63 acres, and they'll likely stick to previous practices of allowing for 9-acre tracks to be sold.
And while a recent change that allows for more than 20 acres to be set aside as a mini-park with 2- or 3-acre tracts available for smaller businesses has been met with “mixed reviews,” Utt said the organization is likely to keep it in place for awhile longer.
“We still have smaller size companies looking for space,” Utt said. “They've outgrown their existing locations, and having the mini-park allows those companies a place to build out there.