A speculative warehouse space is being considered to help current Wayne County industry grow and/or attract new companies.

Economic Development Corp. of Wayne County staff told board members during their Aug. 7 meeting that they are evaluating two opportunities with developers interested in creating the spec building. They also met with a contractor to discuss the idea.

Other updates related to prospective growth:

  • Two existing local manufacturers approached EDC last month about potential expansion projects. The financial investment for one is uncertain, but it could add 30 jobs and retain 219, while another is interested in investing $32 million, adding 25 jobs and retaining 203.  
  • Indiana EDC referred a new lead for a prospective manufacturer in July to EDCWC, designated as Project Generate. The electrical components manufacturer could add 250 jobs to the Midwest Industrial Park and invest $15-$30 million.
  • EDC President Valerie Shaffer and Sarah Mitchell, economic development manager, also met with Richmond Power & Light to discuss a growing number of project leads that would require extremely high electric service.
  • Also in July, EDC staff submitted additional information regarding Project Margarita to Indiana EDC. The pet food manufacturer has maintained interest since August 2022 in adding 195 jobs through a $350 million investment in the Midwest Industrial Park’s new section.
  • Shaffer noted that Viking Group, which makes fire suppression systems, has paused its acquisition of land after it announced plans in February to invest $63 million and create 111 new jobs in Midwest Industrial Park. Shafer said Viking officials were taking time to re-evaluate the expansion’s scope, but she emphasized that Richmond was still their priority location.
  • Shaffer also reported attending Cambridge City’s July council meeting, when the council discussed a potential $8.3 million investment in Gateway Industrial Park to build a new water tower and related infrastructure. Representatives from the EDC, town, Wayne County government and Wessler Engineering will regularly schedule meetings to discuss that project. Shaffer said they’ll have to get creative in finding funding sources such as grants to make it possible.

In other business

  • A new jobs portal to connect employers and prospective workers has softly been launched at homeinwayne.com/work/, and improvements are being made to make jobs easier to find.
  • EDC received $5,000 from Ball Brothers Foundation to support planning efforts as it collaborates with regional partners to pursue a second round of funding through Indiana’s Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI).
  • More remote workers have committed to relocate to Wayne County through the continuing Make My Move initiative. Six have moved to Richmond, two have accepted the offer and must finish their move in six months to qualify, and four offers are currently pending. 

The EDC’s next meeting will be 4 p.m. Sept. 11 at its 900 N. E St. office. Because of a site visit scheduled when the board would normally meet in October, that meeting has been rescheduled to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 4. 

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A version of this article appeared in the August 16 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.