Members of the Knox County Development Corp. continue to eye improvements to the U.S. 41 Industrial Park.
Kent Utt, president of the KCDC, told members Friday morning during their monthly meeting held at Vincennes University’s Isaac K. Beckes Student Union that he’s working with Vincennes Water Utilities and Banning Engineering to design an extension to the existing sanitary sewer line in the park to service the potential smaller clients KCDC hopes to attract there.
KCDC members months ago began the process of changing the covenants associated with the industrial park to allow for the development of a mini-park, or a collection of smaller plots across about 25 acres.
The plan, KCDC leaders said, was in direct response to a growing demand from smaller business owners wanting to relocate in the industrial park.
The original design was for 12 plots; that’s since been downsized to six, Utt said Friday morning.
“But it will still be very adaptable to smaller clients,” Utt said, “but not as dependent on (major) infrastructure (changes).”
Even so, Utt said the organization will need to move forward in constructing a 90-foot sanitary sewer line — an extension off a major line installed when Farbest Foods Inc. moved in in 2013 — to run along Elkhorn Road toward U.S. 41.
That line, according to the utility’s general manager Kirk Bouchie, would then be in place to service any smaller clients that choose to build there.
When the design is finished, Utt said it will be let out for bid. Once he has those numbers in hand, he said he will present them to the full board for possible approval.
Utt also told KCDC members of a recent endeavor in Jackson County to extend broadband internet service.
Jackson County REMC, a member-owned electrical cooperative based in Brownstown, recently began the process of investing more than $70 million in upgrading internet services across its 10-county service area.
“So we’re going to sit back and see how it works. And then keep the pressure on you all,” he told the group with a chuckle.
That sparked a quick conversation among KCDC board members about the lack of reliable internet service — and even cell service — across Knox County, the very reason why KCDC had been pursuing federal grant assistance to look into the possibility of constructing a high-speed broadband network.
Expanding the availability of high-speed internet service was identified as a top priority during KCDC's strategic plan that was completed last year. Community leaders again and again have said the lack of internet service in rural portions of the county is a problem and makes it difficult to attract businesses and people.
Utt said while local progress on such an endeavor has slowed, Stronger Economies Together, an economic development and planning initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture involving Knox, Daviess, Greene, Lawrence and Martin counties, could look at a combined broadband effort sometime in the future.