Starke County Economic Development Foundation officials yesterday joined business and local government leaders to celebrate the completion of the road through the Knox Industrial Park. Thanks to their combined efforts, the intersection of Klockner Drive is wider between Culver Road and north of Pacific Avenue with new curbs in place. SCEDF Executive Director Charlie Weaver says the project has gotten more positive feedback than anything they’ve done in the past two decades.
“We have company officials that tell us that truck operators will come in and talk about how easy it is now to get into the facilities. That’s one of the attractions when we try to market this area is the ease of getting in and out for transportation,” Weaver said after the brief ribbon cutting ceremony.
He adds the improved intersection also benefits school bus drivers and the motoring public. The project was paid for with a combination of federal, state and local funds. Weaver says the investment will make the Knox Industrial Park much easier to market to prospective tenants.
“That’s what prompted this project in the first place,” Weaver said. “It was jobs. The fact we could not get people in and out. We had one project that we were down to the final two sites. They did their site visit. It was a small project, $8 million investment, 50 jobs. Fifty jobs isn’t small, but the $8 million might have been, but we lost it because they couldn’t get their vehicles in and out.”
Eventually the county hopes to extend the road improvements north to State Road 8. Weaver says the timeline depends on whether the bridge on 300 East over the Yellow River is deemed deficient in the next county inspection. If it is, Weaver says it will likely be scheduled for replacement in the next few years. Right now he’s working to line up funding for that and the reconstruction of the Division Road intersection as it goes west off of 300 East. He says doing so will open up access to the 53 acres of land that are ready to market in that area.
Weaver is talking to the Economic Development Administration about helping to fund the project and plans to ask the city and county for assistance as well.