When asked, “Why build a shell building?” Keith Gillenwater, president of the LaGrange County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) replied with two words, “Lost Opportunities.”
He went on to explain that the decision to pursue the construction of a shell building in the Fawn River Crossing Industrial Park is the result of lost opportunities in the last few months. The initial presentation of the project will be made at the LaGrange County Redevelopment Commission meeting at 9 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 26.
“Just in 2012, the LCEDC has lost out on three opportunities in which the proposed specs for our shell building project would have met the requirements that the company was looking for and would have been a good fit into our LaGrange County community,” Gillenwater stated. “The combined impact of just these three lost opportunities is 475 jobs, approximately $24.65 million in investment, and wages that range from local averages to well above average wages (on those indicated). Two of these three projects either made visits to us here in LaGrange County or invited us to visit with them at their facilities. However, that’s not all LaGrange County has lost out on:
· Loss of employment opportunities for area residents;
· Loss of tax revenue for governmental units – CEDIT, CAGIT, TIF, property, sales, state & federal income, wheel, and others;
· Less use of water and sewer utilities at the FRCBP (rates currently subsidized by LaGrange County government at $80,000/yr in 2012);
· The current low usage of the water/sewer utilities at FRCBP creates problems for freezing of water in the new tower and in existing lines;
· Lost marketing opportunities for not only this building but for other sites within LaGrange County that could be shown in conjunction with the shell building;
· Lost rollover effect of money in the community from new residents spending money at local establishments, including real estate sales, retail establishments;
· Lost revenue for utility companies who use those $ to improve the systems elsewhere in our community;
· Lost opportunities for schools to gain new students which translates to additional funding;
“The LCEDC proposes that LaGrange County enters into a joint venture partnership with Garmong Construction to build a new expandable shell building at the FRCBP. Currently, LaGrange County lacks a lot of product to sell. While we have buildings available for sale, the quantity and quality of our available building stock is not what the market dictates. We have found this both on projects we could submit for that are rejected outright and on projects where we have gotten onto the shortlist, and received a site visit, only to be rejected after touring the facilities. Our stock of greenfield sites, while low, has a number of great sites in it, but unfortunately most projects are exclusively requesting available buildings or shell buildings.”
“The specifications for the proposed shell building were determined after exhaustive research of current and past project requests received by the LCEDC, Indiana Economic Development Corporation, Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, and other local economic development offices. It was designed to meet the criteria for the greatest number of projects possible. In short, we cannot afford not to undertake this project.”
The proposed building will be 75,000 sq. ft., expandable to 150,000 sq. ft. The ceiling height will be at least 32 ft. clear span. The building will be built of blocks and precast concrete. The building being proposed will meet the criteria for 76 percent of the building requests over the last 2½ years by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.
When asked about more specifics on what leads had rejected LaGrange County because of the lack of a building to meet their needs, Gillenwater pointed to a foreign-owned automotive components manufacturer and a U.S-based company that manufacturers both automotive components as well as utility components. “Just this month we had an inquiry from the state and the only requirement was for a shell building 40,000 to 100,000 sq. ft. without poured floors,” Gillenwater said. “We had nothing to offer.”
For this project to move forward, a positive recommendation will need to come from the redevelopment commission, the county commissioners and an appropriation from either the county council or a joint resolution from council and commission members if funding is from the Major Moves fund.