By Emily Armentrout
The Industrial Business Complex, which sits on 135 acres of land in Wabash, has been selected as one of five properties in Indiana for Duke Energy’s 2013 Site Readiness Program. According to Duke Energy’s website, Duke Energy’s Site Readiness Program “provides funding and expertise to help communities identify, assess, improve and increase awareness of industrial sites in the Duke Energy Indiana territory.”
In an email to The Paper, Bill Konyha, President and CEO of the Economic Development Group of Wabash County, stated that the “process and evaluation were essential to Wabash County becoming a community working towards continuous improvement.” Konyha also explained the criteria by which Wabash County and the Industrial Business Complex were evaluated. Categories like site characteristics, utility adequacy/capacity, transportation access and site costs were included in the site evaluation. The Wabash Northeast Business Complex received at 77 percent, with a 229.75 out of 300.
There are some issues that are out of the community’s control. One issue that was part of the report was the distance from I-69. Though the 38-mile distance from the complex to I-69, Konyha pointed out that the Hoosier Heartland Highway is complete and will open soon. He also noted that means “we will have four-lane highways connecting us to I-65 and I-69.”
The issue of the complex not having a railroad isn’t as big of a problem because the complex was never intended for heavy industrial use. The complex is more appropriate for “light manufacturing, food processing, logistics, distribution, value added agricultural processing, medical implements and advanced manufacturing,” according to Konyha.
On the Business and Industrial Services level, Wabash trails Indiana when it comes to educational attainment. Wabash County’s graduation rate is 85.4 percent, with Indiana’s graduation rate being 87 percent. Wabash County also trails the state in bachelor degree attainment by 6.8 percent. Konyha told The Paper that “the ability that Wabash County has to recruit technical and professional workforce is perceived as a weakness.”
“We have been working on these (issues) with all of our community partners. The Wabash County Promise is a great example of how the community is working to improve our issues with educational attainment. EDG is proud to partner with the YMCA, all three of our public school corporations, the Chamber of Commerce, our elected officials, Beauchamp McSpadden, Parkview Hospital, and countless others to develop a culture that values college and career readiness,” added Konyha.
The information received from McCallum Sweeney will be used as the Economic Development Group designs the final phases of infrastructure for the complex according to Konyha. “We’ve already addressed the minor issues and we will consider all of their remaining comments.”
There is no current plan to build on the remaining 135 acres at the Wabash Northeast Business Complex, but Konyha told The Paper that the information put out by McCallum Sweeney would be used for marketing programs as well.
“The opportunity to be evaluated by a major site selector is a great opportunity and EDG is very grateful to Duke Energy for making it possible.”