By BRADEN LAMMERS
JEFFERSONVILLE — Another shovel full of dirt was turned over in River Ridge Commerce Center Wednesday to mark the groundbreaking for yet another business in the former Army Ammunition Plant.
America Place at River Ridge officially broke ground on what will eventually become three warehouses that will house manufacturing and/or distribution centers.
The first of the buildings on-site, at 800 Trey Street, will be a 150,000-square-foot space. The second and third phases of America Place at River Ridge are slated to be 200,000 square feet and 320,000 square feet, respectively.
According to an America Place press release, the total investment at the location in River Ridge will total more than $30 million.
Along with the buildings will come a host of new jobs to the region.
The first building is expected to employ 200 to 500 people with the largest building housing about 800 employees, said Keith Starling, leasing and marketing manager for America Place. When the three-phase site is complete, more than 1,500 employees will likely be employed at America Place.
“This is just another example of the potential being realized here at River Ridge,” said River Ridge Executive Director Jerry Acy.
Along with Acy and others from River Ridge, a host of local and state legislators were in attendance to show their support and thank America Place for locating in the commerce center. Among the speakers at the groundbreaking were Clark County Commissioners President Jack Coffman, Utica Town Board President Hank Dorman, Charlestown Mayor Bob Hall, Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore, Jeffersonville City Council President Connie Sellers and representatives from Sen. Joe Donnelly’s office and U.S. Rep. Todd Young’s office.
Nearly all of the speakers pointed to the impact the location of three potential companies will have on the region, and also pointed to the growth that has occurred recently.
“It is becoming, we feel like as evidenced by recent announcements and what’s happening today, a real viable engine of major economic job creation here in the region,” Acy said.
Along with the plans to construct the three-phase America Place site, a $7.3 million expansion was just completed at Mr. P Express, Amazon.com Inc.’s fulfillment center opened in October, and an expansion to utilize the full 1 million-square-foot space was announced in February, and an announcement Tuesday revealed another 360 jobs will be coming to the commerce center as Dayton, Ohio-based The Standard Register Co. announced it will be locating at the former US. Census Bureau building at 700 Patrol Road.
One of the main reasons for the businesses locating in River Ridge is its logistical location. With the promise of the construction of the east-end bridge, which will connect Interstate 265 in Utica to Prospect, Ky., River Ridge will have access to an expanded highway network, the Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville that provides access to the Ohio River, a railroad network running through River Ridge and across the Ohio River, UPS Worldport at the Louisville International Airport.
“We really think that the River Ridge area is just going to be ideal for logistics,” Starling said. “We have some of the best logistics in the nation.”
In order to be able to connect America Place and other potential sites fully with the logistical network, Acy said some work needs to be done. For infrastructure and roadway improvements to connect the sites between America Place and the new interstate interchange, he estimated it will cost the commerce center more than $46 million.
But the improvements to roads that have yet to be made has not been a deterrent to businesses examining potential locations in River Ridge.
“We’re talking with a lot of big companies who are interested in moving to this area and bringing jobs to Jeffersonville,” Starling said. “We’ve got a lot of room for growth and a lot of potential here. We have about three pretty large companies that we’re talking with. They are going to relocate to the state of Indiana, so we’re working with One [Southern Indiana] to get some incentives and things like that going.”
Starling declined to name any of the potential companies, as he said he they are in confidential negotiations, but said the type of businesses locating at America Place would be manufacturing and distribution companies.
America Place also has another location in Jeffersonville just west of Plank Road that houses 30 medium to small businesses, said America Place Manager Debbie Smith. The business park is an 84-acre, 1.14-million-square-foot business park with buildings ranging in size from 10,000 to 40,000 square feet.
The new buildings at America Place at River Ridge will create a new option for its clients.
“Eventually, we hope to be the full life cycle of businesses,” Starling said. “That is one of the reasons we’re expanding here to River Ridge, so people can’t outgrow us — we can just move them here.”