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April 7, 2013

Pulaski Co. looking to buy park

Rail access key to further development, leaders say

FRANCESVILLE — Pulaski County officials want to add a second county industrial park to take advantage of a rail track between Francesville and Medaryville.

County commissioners voted April 1 to appropriate $52,000 toward territorial engineering, site selection and planning for an industrial park along U.S. 421 and a CSX railroad branch that dead-ends on Medaryville’s north side.

“We would like to be able to provide opportunities for the west side of the county to develop an industrial park, thus attracting more individuals to live on the west side of the county,” said county commissioner Larry Brady. And the west side, he said, has rail access that more businesses could use.

“One of the things that really hurts Pulaski County’s competitiveness for business attraction is anymore, when the state sends out leads, rail and four-lane highway both are required,” said Nathan Origer, executive director of Pulaski County CDC/Economic Development.

The county’s current 85-acre industrial park, located in Winamac, has no rail access and is limited to two-lane highway access, Origer said. The one the county is looking to build on the county’s west side would be about the same size, 60 to 80 acres, “but with the major advantage of having rail access,” he explained.

“The lack of that really makes it difficult to market the industrial property in Winamac.”

The potential industrial park would “give people another option,” said Brady, “For people that say, ‘Oh, we like Winamac, but gosh darnit, you don’t have a rail system.’”

The county’s economy depends on its manufacturing base — somewhere between 16 and 20 percent of its workforce is employed in manufacturing, said Origer. It’s also been fairly steady through the recession, he added.

“They’ve hurt like others in the last few years, but we haven’t had any manufacturers shut down. We haven’t had any major layoffs in a number of years,” said Origer.

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