River Ridge Commerce Center, the industrial business complex situated between Jeffersonville and Charlestown in a former U.S. Army ammunition plant, has its sights squarely set on continued growth.
The complex currently is home to more than 50 businesses that employ 10,000 people, but River Ridge Executive Director Jerry Acy said the business park is only at about 30 percent capacity.
However, undeveloped areas in the 6,000-acre development will require significant investments over the next two decades, with infrastructure improvements already underway. Acy said two road projects should be completed by year’s end, and several demolition projects have begun to begin clearing more than 100 existing structures.
In addition, the main water line will be extended to serve the north end of the commerce center. The River Ridge Development Authority this week approved a design plan that includes more than a mile of 16-inch main plus six fire hydrants, approving a lump sum contract of a maximum $72,900 to HWC Engineering.
“We will have plenty of capacity to serve the north end by the end of this year,” Acy said of the project.
Still, sewers, roads and completing demolition will take time and investment. the River Ridge Development Authority believes more than $315 million must be invested over the next two decades to fully complete the infrastructure at the park. More than $200 million of that will go toward developing the north end of the park.
So far, the board has invested about $12 million into preparing for expansion to the north end of the development.
Acy said a 2018 economic impact study showed that businesses in place at River Ridge generated more than $39 million in local and state revenue in 2018. He added that, in addition to the 10,000 jobs in the park, there are another estimated 6,000 jobs “related to River Ridge activities.” Once the business park is finally completed, Acy said he believes 30,000 total on-site jobs are a realistic goal.
Additional projects that lie ahead include removal of an invasive plant species, karst areas that must be preserved or mitigated, and an extensive railroad network that will need updates for modern rail use. The rail network connects with CSX, Acy said, and currently is being leased by Mid America Rail Storage for storing unused train cars.
“It’s a good resource to have,” Acy said. “We do periodically have inquiries from companies that require rail. Smaller operations especially require rail, but we can accommodate any size rail user.”
The development authority board also approved awarding a $426,475 contract to HCL for demolition and removal of a blending tower in the north end of the commerce center.
“We have a lot of work on the north end, but there’s also a lot of opportunity there,” Acy said. “Once the roads, water mains and other infrastructure are in place, we’re confident this will be a popular place for large employers to locate and benefit the entire region.”