Indiana Gov. Mike Pence visited Clark County, Ind., this week to draw attention to various infrastructure projects and applaud the area’s economic growth.
“It is a pretty explosive place economically,” Pence said during a public meeting with constituents at the Wilson Education Center in Charlestown on Thursday afternoon.
Earlier that day, Pence stopped at River Ridge Commerce Center, a 6,000-acre business park in Clark County, to break ground on a road that will help the area accommodate heavy truck traffic. After the meeting, the governor also headed up to see the progress on the East End Bridge that will connect Clark County and Louisville’s East End.
“There is a lot happening across the state of Indiana, but what is unique here is the undeveloped parts,” Pence told Insider Louisville in an interview afterward. “River Ridge, it is 6,000 acres of boundless potential.”
Pence noted that the $11.5 million road he broke ground on earlier would allow River Ridge to attract manufacturing companies and other businesses by providing easy access from the business park to railroad lines and river ports nearby.
To maximize River Ridge’s potential, Indiana not only needs to make sure it has the infrastructure but also the educational opportunities in place, Pence said. Many business located or looking to locate at River Ridge need skilled laborers, who can sometimes be difficult to find.
“It really is a combination of those factors,” he said. “The backdrop of which, of course, is a balanced budget, low taxes, sensible regulation — all the things that make Indiana attractive from a policy standpoint.”
The state has received inquiries about River Ridge from around the country as well as some from around the world, Pence said.
“It probably is hard for people to really fully appreciate how unique that asset is and how to quantify what that will mean for the region,” he said. “I just don’t think there is any other undeveloped industrial space in the country that close to a major city that will be supported by the kind of infrastructure that we are putting into place.”
“It is going to give Southern Indiana some decided advantages to attract investment,” he added.
The Indiana Department of Transportation committed more than $660 million toward infrastructure projects in Clark County from 2009 to 2016, according to the governor’s office. The majority of that is tied to the Ohio River Bridges Project and roads related to River Ridge’s development.
Infrastructure and River Ridge weren’t Pence’s only topics of conversation:
- Pence had some praise for One Southern Indiana president and CEO Wendy Dant Chesser, calling her one of “the most dynamic economic leaders.” He noted that Southern Indiana was focused on regionalism “before it was cool.”
- Although five counties in Southern Indiana failed to come together to submit a plan for the state’s $84 million Regional Cities Initiative earlier this year, Pence told meeting attendees that they didn’t completely miss the boat. “Let me assure you there will be another at-bat,” he said.
- After hearing a complaint about the lack of high-speed Internet in areas of Southern Indiana, Pence offered to call the CEO of Google to personally make a case for why Southern Indiana should be included in the tech company’s efforts to bring Google Fiber to Louisville.