A value-added agriculture business may be looking to set up operations in Pulaski County, with the potential for up to 30 jobs. That’s according to Community Development Commission Executive Director Nathan Origer. He recently told the county council that the developer is from the Francesville area and has been exploring a few potential sites, including one that was previously considered for a proposed west side industrial park.
The big challenge would be upgrading the natural gas infrastructure, and Origer said the business would be interested in pursuing a public-private partnership to make that happen. “I’m not asking for any commitments from you or the commissioners tonight,” he told council members. “But I want you to know that we’re looking into what kind of project costs would be involved, how competitive it would be as a grant application to the state and/or federal government, and what it’s going to take to get some cooperation from NIPSCO because it’s virtually a seven-figure price tag just to get sufficient natural gas to the site, let alone all the other utilities that would go into it.”
Origer said the site in question is about 60 acres with both highway and rail access, although the project would only use about a third of that. He pointed out that the CDC had already done a preliminary engineering feasibility study on the property. “It’s not every day somebody falls into your lap ready to develop, especially when they’re interested in trying to partner with you, so that taxpayers don’t cover all of the cost burden,” Origer said. “They get a break. We get to split these costs and find ways to create new opportunities for the next Don Galbreath or Ralph Braun or Tony Holliday or Walt Pesaresi, who just got an idea in a garage and turns it into a two-, three-, four-, six-hundred-employee company forty years down the road.”
Council President Jay Sullivan felt the county officials would be “in big-time support” of the project.
Origer noted the importance of these sorts of developments for the county’s finances. “Let’s be honest, right now, what Pulaski County needs, whether it’s wind turbines or a factory or a landfill, is tax revenue,” he said. “Without getting into the complications of circuit breaker and levy freeze, the more tax base we have, the more we can try to increase revenue without having to increase the rate. I mean, I think that’s what we all fundamentally want. The whole idea of economic development is to create as much tax value as possible, so we don’t have to worry about the rate as much.”
Building Inspector Doug Hoover also noted a few potential development projects on the horizon, including solar energy and confined animal feeding operations.