City economic leaders hope a proposed business park in Gray could help attract new industries to the area and bring needed jobs and municipal revenue.
Washington County Economic Development Council CEO Mitch Miller said the proposed 270-acre site, between Ford Creek Road and the Army National Guard armory near Interstate 26, has many of the qualities that prospective businesses are looking for when considering building sites.
“It’s a good size and it has the advantage of accessibility being right next to the Interstate,” he said. “It has the potential to make us very attractive to businesses looking to expand or relocate.”
A key portion of the proposed park is a 97-acre tract owned by Danny Karst, which Miller said has been of interest to the WCEDC for several years because of its convenient location.
The development body expects to finally close on that property in June, Miller said, beginning an important series of events.
Adjacent to the Karst property is another 93 acres of land already owned by Johnson City, which he hopes to incorporate into the park.
“It’s been discussed at some of our board meetings,” Miller said of the inclusion of the city’s land. “They seem to be open and receptive of the idea. They understand how valuable it would be to us to be able to market a site like this to businesses.”
For months, Miller has espoused the need to establish a new commercial park in Washington County.
Industrial users are quickly moving into many of the local buildings larger than 100,000 square feet, and the WCEDC wants more opportunities to advertise.
Under a request from the Development Council, Washington County recently expanded the Telford Industrial Park using land purchased by the county years ago.
Miller said Telford is a good park, and several successful businesses are located there, but it’s far from major access routes, making it suitable for only certain tenants.
“It fits a specific user that aren’t your typical businesses,” Miller said of the Telford site. “It’s about 14 miles from the nearest Interstate, and not everybody wants to be that far away.”
To supply the empty land in Gray with utilities, Miller said the local municipalities will likely qualify for state grants to help pay the cost of extending lines from the armory site and building roads into the park.
“This will really put is in the ball game for bigger projects,” he said. “Being able to market 100 or more contiguous acres for businesses is huge for us.”
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