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The Rievr Ridge Development Authority has announced plans to expedite the rail expansion at the business park.

JEFFERSONVILLE — The River Ridge Development Authority (RRDA) and Mid-America Rail Storage and Leasing have reached an agreement that will end Mid-America’s lease of rail assets at River Ridge Commerce Center, according to a news release. The agreement resolves a lawsuit Mid-America filed in July related to the appraisal of the rail assets at River Ridge.

The agreement, which was approved during the monthly meeting of the River Ridge Development Authority, allows for an early termination of Mid-America’s lease. The lease was due to end in 2027 but will instead cease by Oct. 31, 2021.

“Mid-America has been a good partner that has managed the rail for River Ridge since we assumed their lease agreement from the U.S. Army,” River Ridge Executive Director Jerry Acy said, according to the release. “We’re pleased we were able to come to a fair and equitable agreement that meets both Mid-America and River Ridge’s needs.”

Rail system expansion planned to fuel economic development

The agreement with Mid-America allows River Ridge to expedite a new partnership agreement with OmniTRAX, one of the fastest-growing private railroad and transportation-management companies in North America.

Denver-based OmniTRAX will become River Ridge’s new rail partner. As River Ridge announced in April, OmniTRAX will further develop the rail infrastructure at the River Ridge Commerce Center and work closely with River Ridge staff and local partners to attract major employers and new industries to Southern Indiana.

“Our partnership with OmniTRAX will help us significantly grow River Ridge and expand economic opportunities,” Acy said. “They are a world-class railroad operator and transportation company that will be the ideal partner to help us reach the next level. The company’s national reputation, vast economic development resources, and wealth of expertise will provide tremendous benefits to the Commerce Center and entire region.”

“We are excited to bring OmniTRAX rail service to River Ridge Commerce Center,” said OmniTRAX CEO Dean Piacente. “The park’s strategic location offers tremendous manufacturing and distribution opportunities, and our unique blend of rail and real estate expertise will play a major role in the park’s long-term development. We appreciate the extensive local collaboration that has made this partnership possible.”

The River Ridge Commerce Center has become one of the nation’s premier business and industrial parks. Located on 6,000 acres along the Ohio River in Southern Indiana, River Ridge is an economic driver for the region, attracting top-tier employers and well-paying jobs to the community. River Ridge is home to more than 60 firms with over 10,500 workers.

With about 4,000 acres of River Ridge still available for development, River Ridge can accommodate projects ranging from 1 acre to 1,400 acres in its dedicated megasite. River Ridge’s central location and world-class amenities make it a preferred site for dozens of companies, representing sectors such as aerospace, automotive, food and beverage, information technology, life sciences and logistics.

OmniTRAX, an affiliate of The Broe Group, operates more than 20 rail systems in North America and offers transportation and supply-chain management solutions. Its new agreement with River Ridge will allow the company to connect existing customers and new prospects with a centralized hub that will serve the Midwest, Northeast and Southeast markets.

Potential land sales approved

During its monthly meeting, the RRDA also approved moving forward with two, potential land deals that would generate more investments and jobs at the burgeoning business park.

The Authority approved a resolution allowing Executive Director Jerry Acy to negotiate the sale of approximately 28.5 acres for $110,000 per acre. The potential purchaser plans to construct an industrial facility of approximately 400,000 square feet.

The second resolution involves the sale of approximately 14.5 acres on Paul Garrett Avenue for a price of $125,000 per acre. The potential purchaser would construct an industrial facility consisting of approximately 200,000 square feet.

The land deals would generate $4.95 million in funding for the RRDA. The funding would be used for operations and further development to attract companies and jobs to Southern Indiana.

To date this year, River Ridge has announced 10 potential land sales totaling approximately 243 acres for new development. Those sales, including the agreements approved at the September board meeting, would generate funding to support operations and continued development activity at River Ridge and add about 3 million square feet of industrial real estate.

“This has been one of the most active years we’ve had in terms of land sales and interest in development at River Ridge,” Acy said. “We expect this positive momentum to carry through the end of the year and lead to much, much more growth of jobs and investments at River Ridge.”

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