While economic development activity has slowed in the face of COVID-19, One Southern Indiana Chief Executive Officer Wendy Dant Chesser says her phone is still ringing. “We have remained active,” said Chesser, who adds there are indications companies are looking to move quickly once the crisis eases.
“We’ve had a couple of projects put on hold, but certainly not the majority, Chesser tells Inside INdiana Business. “And those that are interested in moving forward are looking at existing buildings, which tells us they’re interested with a sense of urgency and moving forward quickly when they do decide to pull the trigger.”
Dant Chesser says the River Ridge Commerce Center continues to be a magnet for attracting economic development interest in the region.
Prior to the pandemic, southeast Indiana had been seeing noticeable economic development activity.
In January, just nine months after opening its $56 million bottling facility in Jeffersonville, California-based Niagara Bottling LLC announced plans to invest an additional $37 million to expand the plant.
At the time, Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore said the investment was a statement about the region’s attractiveness. “It could have chosen any of the 15 or more states which currently have Niagara facilities. This decision is a direct reflection on the state’s pro-business attitude, our exemplary workforce and the region as a whole,” said Moore.
The region also landed a $52 million commitment from Louisville-based PharmaCord to expand its Jeffersonville operations. As part of the deal, the privately-held health care solutions company committed to adding 850 jobs by the end of 2023.
Both projects are located in the sprawling River Ridge Commerce Center, a 6,000 acre business park along the Ohio River that is now home to more than 50 companies, including names like Amazon, GE Appliances and Tenneco.
Southeast Indiana has also received approval from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation for its regional plan for Clark, Floyd, Jefferson, Scott and Washington counties.
The Our Southern Indiana Regional Development Authority plan focuses on seven categories, including connections, destinations, economic development, government, infrastructure, natural assets and workforce and is viewed as a major step forward for efforts to advance regional collaboration in southeast Indiana.
Editor’s Note: Dant Chesser will talk about economic development activity in southeast Indiana on this weekend’s edition of Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.