Bethany Tabb, Courier-Times Staff Writer
After months of talk, Henry County officials voted to turn their idea for a building designed to attract businesses into a reality.
The Henry County Redevelopment Commission has approved a development company as its partner in planning and constructing what's called a shell building. Runnebohm Construction was picked Thursday evening after weeks of interviewing five applicants.
The Shelbyville-based company has agreed to pay for the 40,000- to 60,000-square-foot building and take the lead on planning. Then the RDC will use property tax money set aside for economic development to make the interest payments until someone buys the building.
Bob Grewe, president and CEO of the New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corp., hopes to finish the planning process in time to begin construction this spring. He's also working on a marketing strategy to lure a business to the facility as soon as possible.
Grewe believes filling the building won't take long based on the number of leads he's received from interested companies.
Chris King, Runnebohm executive vice president, said the company is interested in getting involved with Henry County's economic development. With the relocation of Crown Equipment and plans for a new Ivy Tech Community College campus, he thinks New Castle is poised for success.
"We see that there are quite a few good things happening in the New Castle area," King said. "We feel like if we can step up and help this project along, that's a good opportunity for us."
A shell building, also called a speculative building, is a facility built for the sole purpose of marketing to prospective businesses. Grewe has said it's a priority because most businesses looking to relocate aren't interested in building their own buildings.
Henry County has not built a shell building in at least 25 years, President Scott Hayes said. Last time, in about 1985, EDC members did not hire a developer but planned a building in the New Castle-Henry County Industrial Park themselves. They borrowed the cash to pay for it, and the facility sat empty for about four years.
Runnebohm has built multiple facilities in the New Castle-Henry County Industrial Park, including TS Techand Midwest Logistics. The company had a good experience with those projects and were interested in returning to Henry County when it got word of the shell building.
Plans for the building have not been finalized, but Grewe expects it to be located on a five- to seven-acre lot in the industrial park. They're looking to build a facility with a desirable size but leave enough room on the lot that the building could be quadrupled if needed, he said.
The goal is to build a shell of a building, leaving even most of the floors as gravel since some businesses would need to dig pits to hold equipment.
Runnebohm will act as both architect and contractor for the project. Grewe, meanwhile, is charged with marketing the building.
The EDC has about $30,000 set aside to make sure companies know about the new building. Right now Grewe is studying the most effective uses for that money, whether it's through print media or other sources. He's considering creating a Web page just for the building, taking photos and getting its information in national media.