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Industrial park receives key state certification

March 20, 2019
The 96-acre Crawford County Industrial Park is ready for business, as the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs on Thursday designated it Indiana Site Certified Silver.

Colette Childress, a project manager with the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, right, presents Morton Dale, president of both the Crawford County Economic Development Corp. Board of Directors and Crawford County Board of Commissioners, a certificate designating the Crawford County Industrial Park as Indiana Site Certified Silver. Photo By Chris Adams
Colette Childress, a project manager with the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, explained that the silver certification is a signal to potential developers that the industrial park at the intersection of Interstate 64 and S.R. 66 is ready for economic development.

"There's a reason it takes so much work to do it, and that's because it does mitigate those risks for site selectors," Childress said as she presented Morton Dale, president of both the Crawford County Economic Development Corp. Board of Directors and Crawford County Board of Commissioners, a certificate during a ceremony at the Economic Development office in Leavenworth on Thursday afternoon.

"Anybody usually involved in site selection understands that you're eliminated long before you ever knew you were even considered. What this does is, this is a talking point, and it puts your best foot forward saying, 'I've done the work. We're ready to go,' " she said.

The Indiana Site Certified program recognizes three tiers, beginning with silver and advancing to gold and prime. The silver tier, according to OCRA's website, "defines boundaries with a clear title, establishes a price, demonstrates executive level local government support, defines utility capacity and distance, and provides documentation such as Phase I environmental assessment, ALTA, topographical and property layout.

"To earn a site certified designation, it requires public and private sector collaboration and partnership," OCRA Executive Director Jodi Golden said via a press release. "I commend the leadership and local partners of the Crawford County Industrial Park for taking the necessary steps to bring economic development to their communities."

Michael Thissen, executive director of the Crawford County EDC, told those gathered at Thursday's ceremony that being Indiana Site Certified Silver "elevates our industrial park in the eyes of the state."

"It's been a rewarding process to position our community for growth, and this certification will assist in becoming an attractive place for business development and expansion," he said.

"We are strategically positioned just 35 minutes away from Louisville. I want to remind folks of that. It's not just Louisville, but their workforce and UPS Worldport, across the only free bridge across the river right now," Thissen added, referring to the Sherman Minton Bridge on Interstate 64, as the other free bridge, the Clark Memorial Bridge, is expected to be closed at night beginning this week for painting.

Thissen also noted that Crawford County is a key entry point for those visiting area attractions, whether they be in Crawford or counties to the north.

"We are going to be able to leverage our certified shovel-ready park to attract businesses who can capitalize on our region," he said. "We really are the 'Southern Gateway.' We have 1.2 million people coming up through Crawford County to stay in our cabins and go to French Lick and a lot of that comes from the south."

The certification is the first for a site in Crawford County, and one of five in the immediate surrounding area. Throughout the state, there are approximately 25 at one of the three levels.

Thissen noted that several partners were instrumental in the certification process. Besides the county's board of commissioners and council, he thanked several others, including Radius Indiana, an eight-county economic development initiative that Crawford County belongs, and the Crawford County Chamber of Commerce's Jesse Belcher, whom Thissen said was key in the county receiving a Duke Energy Site Readiness Program grant in 2017.

"He's really the nuts and bolts to a lot of this. A lot of people don't realize just how much he's really done in terms of laying the groundwork before my arrival," Thissen, who was hired in the spring of 2018, said.

Others present at Thursday's ceremony were Christine Harbeson, executive director of the Community Foundation of Crawford County; Chad Riddle and Sharon Wilson of the Crawford County Council; Brenda Goff of U.S. Sen. Todd Young's office; Bob Sawtelle and his wife, Missi Bush-Sawtelle; District 1 Crawford County Commissioner Daniel Crecelius; and Belcher.

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