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Consultant says city could fill second industrial park

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by Karen E. Culp

SBJ Staff

Springfield could fill a second industrial park like the Partnership Industrial Center, according to a study presented to the Springfield Business and Development Corporation by Economic Development Resources.

The consultant EDR was retained to study whether Springfield could support another industrial development like the Partnership Industrial Center, a private-public partnership that began as a concept in 1990. Development of the park actually started in 1993, said Karl Plumpe, associate general manager at City Utilities, which is a partner in the project.

Plumpe has been active in the marketing of the center and has watched it grow to hold 12 businesses. Six of those businesses were local companies who used the center to expand, and six were companies new to Springfield.

EDR's report focused on whether a new industrial park should be developed, and addressed the questions arising from the development of the first park, such as whether there should be a public-private partnership in Springfield for economic development and whether such a partnership should be the developer of an industrial park.

The report mainly focused on whether the community can attract new industrial firms and whether space is needed to house those new firms.

The report states that general market demand for additional industrial and manufacturing sites in the greater Springfield area "appears reasonably strong."

That assessment is based on "interviews with industrial and commercial real estate brokers ... (and) conversations with various elected and appointed municipal and county officials and discussions with businesspersons active in the market," the report said.

The strength of demand can also be attributed to the "history of absorption of developable property within the PIC," the report said.

About 100 acres of the center's total 310 acres remains to be developed, and "we are having conversations with enough interested companies to fill it," Plumpe said.

The park should be full within two to three years, he added.

"It has filled much more quickly than we anticipated it would. It has really become the kind of development we wanted for our area," Plumpe said.

The report EDR prepared is a good "score card for the SBDC," Plumpe said, and shows that demand for a second park is strong. City Utilities bought the ground for the Partnership Industrial Center; the park has benefitted the utility by adding the large industrial users to its system that help it to run more efficiently, Plumpe said.

In order for another park to be developed, it is likely that a private developer would need to come forward to partner with the public entities to develop a new park, Plumpe said.

The first step for the Springfield Business and Development Corporation will be to "synthesize the findings of the report and make a recommendation of how we believe we should proceed," said Greg Williams, of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce.

"We will aggressively solicit private sector participation in another park," Williams added.

Frank Evans, president of Miller & Sanford and a member of the SBDC's board of directors, said he believes Springfield has the work force to support more industrial jobs.

"Anyone who is telling a community to not go out and seek high-skilled, high-paying jobs for its citizens is not looking at the bigger picture. People want an opportunity for better jobs; there's evidence of that everywhere. This is one way for us to see that those jobs are there," Evans said.

He added that the community "needs to be in a position to be ready to respond," when the Partnership Industrial Center fills in two or three years.

The EDR study also lists eight potential sites for a new park. Among them is the 639 acres the city owns at the Springfield-Branson Regional Airport, about 325 acres of which is now developed for industrial use as the Air Centre, an industrial park intended for aviation-related companies or companies who need to have access to the airport.

Though the site has been available for quite some time (its first tenant took residence 18 years ago), the park remains largely unfilled.

"I think more effort should be placed in the marketing of the Air Centre," said Rob Hancik, director of aviation for the airport.

The Air Centre site and adjacent acreage, a total of 639 city-owned acres, is one of the sites recommended by EDR as a potential spot for another industrial park similar to the Partnership Industrial Center.

The consultant ranked the area as

somewhat desirable, but cited the fact that the property is available for lease only, not for sale, and the restrictions on

building heights because of proximity to the airport as potential problems with the site.

EDR recommended seven other sites, also, and rated their desirability.

The sites include Mulroy Road and Kearney Street, highly desirable; U.S. 65 and Division Street, somewhat desirable; Interstate 44 and Neergard Road, somewhat desirable; U.S. 160 and I-44, somewhat desirable; Kearney Street and U.S. 160, somewhat desirable; I-44 and Chestnut Expressway, desirable; and the Southwest Power Plant, limited desirability.

INSET CAPTION:

In order for another park to be developed,

it is likely that a

private developer

would need to come forward to partner with the public entities.[[In-content Ad]]

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