Eighteen candidates were on hand for Meet the Candidate Night Tuesday in front of a standing room only crowd of around 80 voters at the LaGrange County Office Building. The event was sponsored by the LaGrange County Chamber of Commerce.
Candidates were given five minutes to introduce themselves and to present any information pertaining to the office they are running for. Then the floor was opened to questions from the audience as well as questions e-mailed in.
Several questions were directed to County Commissioner candidates Jac Price and Mary Myhnier concerning economic development in the county, including whether or not they were in favor of a shell building to attract potential industries and, if so, how to fund it.
Price stated he was fully in favor of a shell building, noting it is a “necessity for this county.” Despite popular belief, there are very few empty, acceptable buildings in the county for industry to move into, Price said. “Two companies were interested in moving into the area,” Price said. “But they couldn’t convert the inside of the Multiplex building to suit them.”
Myhnier stated that she had never been happy with the money and effort spent on the Fawn River Crossing area. She didn’t feel the county needs a shell building and stated that, “There are already buildings that are empty. We should wait and see what happens.”
The commissioner candidates were also asked about why the county recently lost out on a distribution center opportunity as well as why the companies that can’t use existing facilities, like Multiplex, won’t build in the county.
Price pointed out that most companies looking to relocate are not necessarily looking to build. “They want to be able to move into a building quickly,” Price said. He also pointed out that the lack of a traffic signal at the entrance to Fawn River Crossing, as well as a second entrance/exit were two factors that led to the loss of that opportunity.
“That is one reason it (Fawn River Crossing) is not my favorite project,” countered Myhnier. “There was poor planning from the beginning.” She felt that the commissioners need to work closely with the council and the Economic Development Corporation to make better decisions.
The issue of incentives was also discussed, and Price pointed out that while Steuben and DeKalb counties were able to combine to give the Family Dollar Distribution Center a total of $9.5 million in incentives, “LaGrange County fell about $4.5 million short of that.” The county, he added, tries to put incentive packages together for companies that are looking to locate here.
He also pointed out that “we have spent no tax money on Fawn River Crossing.”