COLUMBIA CITY - Construction has begun on a shell building in Whitley County that officials hope will drive further economic development. Whitley RC Investments LLC has broken ground on the facility at the Rail Connect Business Park in Columbia City, which is expected to be complete in May 2019.

Financial terms of the company's investment in the facility were not disclosed. The Whitley County Economic Development Corp. says the 98,000-square-foot building will be expandable to 290,000 square feet.

"This is another great example of a public-private partnership, where Whitley County has partnered with a private developer to encourage private investment in the county," Jon Myers, president of the Whitley County EDC, said in a news release. "We are always looking for opportunities to use our resources to encourage private investors to grow with us here in Whitley County."

The project is the second of its kind at the business park by Whitley RC Investments. The developers and the Whitley County Redevelopment Commissioned partnered in 2013 to build a 70,000-square-foot shell building, which is now occupied by manufacturer Autoliv Inc.

The Whitley County Council has approved a 10-year tax abatement for the project and the Whitley County RDC has provided additional funding for infrastructure improvements.