County officials have been looking at getting a matching grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. But after researching the grant, Community Development Commission Executive Director Nathan Origer told the county council this week the funds most likely couldn’t be used for just the land purchase. Instead, he said at least a portion of the grant must pay for utility infrastructure.
Origer said using the grant to pay for both the land and the infrastructure would save the county money, but could slow the project down. “The issue is that the timeframe becomes a lot longer if the grant is involved, as opposed to buying the land,” he said. “We’ve got two people who might be interested. One of them is probably a pretty good bet, depending on the timeline, but the downside of his is, if not right away, eventually he will need rail, which means he needs to be closer to the south side of the property.”
He said it may be better for the county to buy the land with its own money, and apply for a grant later for infrastructure. “That way, if we have the land and we do a little piecemeal development and then two or three years from now we pull the trigger on a grant, we might have a better idea if we need to do some road improvements or some rail improvements that we don’t need to do right now,” Origer said. “Whereas if we go for a grant right now, and we don’t put rail in – because we’re not just going to throw rail in the middle of the property not knowing the ideal spot for it based on potential tenants – we’re not going to have the access to the grant for building additional rail or road capacity.”
Origer said Pulaski County should have enough money in its County Economic Development Income Tax Fund to pay for the land. The county could also raise extra funds by selling its farmland near Winamac, but the county commissioners voted against that idea back in January.