Cargill Inc. shuttered its a grain elevator at 1174 Ramsey Road on July 31, Kent Utt, president of the Knox County Development Corp., told members of his board of directors Friday morning.
Utt said after hearing rumblings that the elevator would close, he reached out to local farmers and Cargill leadership only to confirm that the long-time local business had shuttered early this week.
Cargill also closed its elevator in Princeton.
The grain elevator here actually opened under the ownership of Vincennes resident Howard Wright in the 1950s, Utt said. Wright then sold to Cargill in 1991.
And Utt said Cargill officials called it simply “an economic decision” to close the two Southern Indiana elevators.
Cargill's original plans, Utt said, were to shutter the business indefinitely, leaving it to sit empty. But just after receiving the news that the elevator would certainly close, Utt received a call from state Indiana Economic Development Corp. officials hoping to help a potential buyer looking for a 5-acre site with rail access and an existing grain elevator.
The Cargill site, Utt said, fit the specifications perfectly, so he reached out to Cargill yet again to see if they would be interested in selling the property and its contents.
“But I don't know what will happen with that,” he said.
This new, prospective company, Utt said, would bring with it 10 jobs; there were just five at Cargill.
But those company officials are currently looking at sites in 20 Indiana counties.
Utt said he also got a call — one made through personal connections, not ones made through IEDC — from someone interested in touring the former PepsiCo. warehouse.
KCDC has been actively trying to market the 46,000-square-foot building at 2680 S. Old Decker Road since it closed last year.
The warehouse was specifically built to Pepsi's specifications in 1996. But it was vacated in September 2016.
It is owned by Mike Cassady and Venture Investment Co. and listed for $1.7 million, and while KCDC has received several inquires, a buyer hasn't come forward.
Utt said he is meeting with this latest prospect on Tuesday, and while he can provide very few details about the company looking to locate there, he can say it's “a viable, international business” and one “well vetted through state officials.”
“It would be about 90 jobs,” Utt said, “and while I don't have wage information yet, we're just excited to take someone out there and show them that facility.
“It's not always nice having an empty building, but it does give us opportunities to talk to those prospects.”
Utt also told KCDC board members that while the organization did have a local business owner back out of purchasing space in the newly-designated mini-park at the U.S. 41 Industrial Park, another has come forward.
“So (in the meantime) we've stepped back just a little bit and are redesigning that even more to reduce some of our initial costs,” Utt said of the mini-park.
The minor re-design could focus on fewer, larger lots, although nothing is definite, he said.
“The site development committee will meet to look and vet that out further,” Utt said. “There's more to come on that, but we feel good about the progress we've made so far.”
The Knox County Area Plan Commission has given the mini-park's design preliminary approval, but Utt said he will wait to get final approval — and begin actual construction of infrastructure — until they have a definite buyer in place.
The parks' design calls for just over 50 acres to be set aside for the development of small businesses.