GREENFIELD - Greenfield-based NineStar Connect has launched several expansion plans for its water and sewer facilities in Hancock County. The utility says its initiatives have boosted the local economy and attracted businesses and developers to the area. 

Among the utility's plans are the extension of water services between the GEM Water plant and the new Hancock Regional Health campus at I-70 and Mount Comfort Road. NineStar plans to build a new, 500,000-gallon water tower on the Hancock Health Gateway campus beginning this fall.

The project follows NineStar's acquisition of the GEM Water utility from the town of Cumberland in January.

NineStar is also building a new wastewater treatment plant and water facility along U.S. 40 in Hancock County. Work on the facility, which will be located in the unincorporated community of Philadelphia, is also expected to begin this fall and has already received regulatory approvals.

The utility has also extended the sewer lines originating at its plant in the unincorporated community of Maxwell, which has also helped in the development of the Sapphire Springs neighborhood. Developer Rick Anderson says the property previously did not have any sewage or water facilities. He says the extension has solved all of the neighborhood's sewer issues.

NineStar says the expansion of its wet utilities has also led to new commercial developments in Maxwell. Smith Projects, a local construction company, and County Materials, which manufactures and distributes concrete and related construction products, have both established new facilities in the area.

"The mission of NineStar Connect is to deliver the utility infrastructure needed to enable well-planned economic development," Michael Burrow, president of NineStar Connect, said in a news release. 

The utility was a co-sponsor of an Urban Land Institute study of economic development along the Mount Comfort Corridor in Hancock County. The study, released in May, suggested several growth opportunities for the 13-mile stretch.