Work to begin on new industrial park

Prime Ohio II could bring 1,500 jobs to Springfield.

The decision to award a construction contract to begin work on PrimeOhio II will lead to numerous short-term construction jobs and make it easier for economic development officials to pitch the roughly 200-acre site to prospective businesses, local officials said.

The industrial park, which has been in the planing stages for close to two decades, could eventually attract 1,000 to 1,500 jobs to Clark County, said Horton Hobbs, vice president of economic development for the Clark County Community Improvement Corp. But in the short-term, he said beginning construction at the site at Ohio 41 and Interstate 70 in Springfield will make it easier to sell prospective companies on the idea that Clark County is the right fit for their business.

“When you can’t physically see a roadway, it’s hard for a prospective business to see what’s going to happen,” Hobbs said,

J&J Schlaegel Inc., based in Urbana, was chosen as the lowest bidder for the $3.74 million project that will begin this month. Construction will include site work and adding underground utilities.

The project is expected to take about 330 days, if weather and several other factors go according to plan, said Jerry Schlaegel, president and CEO of the construction company. It’s not clear how many construction jobs will be involved overall, but Schlaegel said it will be significant.

In the meantime, he said his company is happy to be working on a project that could have a long-term impact on the region’s economy.

“It would be hard to know the number of people it touches,” Schlaegel said. “It will be a lot of jobs.”

The site will be ideal for logistics and distribution firms, as well as light manufacturing companies that need easy access to the interstate, Hobbs said. The projection that it could eventually lead to 1,000 or 1,500 jobs is based partly on the first Prime Ohio Corporate Park, a 395-acre industrial park that provides space for 13 manufacturing and distribution centers and includes about 2,000 employees. That site, also located along I-70, was built about 30 years ago.

Once complete, PrimeOhio II will make about 200 acres of ground ready for immediate development.

Local officials have pitched the site to various employers in recent years, Hobbs said.

“Our ability to land a prospective company increases dramatically because it’s underway,” Hobbs said.

It’s hard to say how long it will take before new businesses begin using PrimeOhio II, but the area will see some immediate benefits from the local construction jobs, Hobbs said, and the county will likely see some return on its investment within a relatively short time.

“Every day we are actively marketing that site to folks within our community or outside or community,” Hobbs said.

The project was possible in part because of collaborations with the state and federal government, among other entities.

“The only way we were able to make this work was through persistence and partnerships,” Hobbs said.

J&J Schlaegel Inc. is currently finishing work on the Champion City Business Park, located at the old Navistar International Harvester plant on Lagonda Avenue. Schlaegel said he’s happy his company has the opportunity to work on both projects, which will make the county more marketable for businesses to relocate or expand.

“If we don’t have a place for businesses to come into, you don’t have a shot,” Schlaegel said. “It’s kind of the price of admission.”

Love’s Inc., a national truck stop and country store chain, also recently announced it will build a new $7.5 million travel center at the northeast corner of the PrimeOhio II site, which could mean as many as 60 new jobs. Construction is expected to begin early next year and open by 2014. Officials from that company have said the location will allow Love’s to serve travelers and professional drivers getting on and off the interstate.

Last week, Clark County and the CIC also reached an agreement to sell slightly less than an acre of land to the Horner Industrial Group, an Indianapolis-based company that employs about 35 people at its local branch. The property will allow the company to expand its machine shop, and possibly create a handful of new jobs.

The travel center announcement, along with the machine shop expansion and construction at PrimeOhio II, has meant a good month for the county, Hobbs said.

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