The Richmond Redevelopment Commission has agreed to contribute $900,000 to assist a new rail-served transloading, processing and warehousing project.

Valerie Shaffer, president of the Economic Development Corporation of Wayne County, updated Wayne County’s commissioners about EDC activities during their April 19 morning meeting.

Project Thomas, reported on in the April 12, 2023 Western Wayne News, would build a new rail spur to serve Blue Buffalo and other local pet-food processors. It would involve a $39 million investment that is expected to create 30 jobs averaging $25 per hour in wages.

The Redevelopment Commission’s contribution replaces a $1 million incentive offered when Blue Buffalo relocated to Wayne County. That incentive has expired.

At Shaffer’s request April 19, commissioners approved 2-1, with Mary Anne Butters opposing, a $25,000 Economic Development Income Tax grant for Safety Zone to expand its operations into a fourth building. The move would create 49 new jobs over three years, but the average starting wage is $16 per hour.

The $16 wage does not meet the EDC’s new $18 requirement, but Shaffer said the EDC is advancing Safety Zone’s request because the process began prior to the increase in wage requirement.

Shaffer also updated commissioners about the Make My Move program. The program’s goal is to entice 20 remote workers to relocate to Wayne County. A mover is scheduled to close on a home May 10 to become the sixth mover to the county.

“I’ve been happy with the momentum we’ve gained in 2023,” Shaffer said.

HELP meetings

During a previous commissioners meeting, Butters asked about the public attending Hoosier Enduring Legacy Program committee meetings. Commissioner Jeff Plasterer said April 19 that the public is able to observe, but the meetings are not public hearings.

The four committees represent the four pathways for funding using the American Rescue Plan Act dollars. Upcoming meetings are:

  • 2 p.m. April 26, the economic vitality committee at Ivy Tech Community College Richmond, 2357 Chester Blvd., Richmond.
  • 5 p.m. April 26, the quality of place committee at William G. Scott House, 204 N. 10th St., Richmond.
  • 9 a.m. May 9, health and wellness committee at Wayne County Administration Building, 401 E. Main St., Richmond.
  • Noon May 11, economic vitality committee at Ivy Tech Community College Richmond, 2357 Chester Blvd., Richmond.

The broadband committee’s meeting was scheduled for April 24.

Abington Township facility plans

Steve Kaiser, the Abington Township trustee, addressed commissioners about his desire to build a multipurpose facility that would include a new firehouse, community center and an emergency shelter or staging area. He said his vision would cost $3 million.

Kaiser requested county assistance with identifying ways to fund the program, including possible Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs grants.

The firehouse has a wall falling in, Kaiser said, and a new fire truck doesn’t fit inside the building. He’s also seeking to address signage and water issues in the area. 

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Mike Emery is a reporter and layout editor for the Western Wayne News.