The Russell County French Valley Industrial Park is officially certified as a “Shovel Ready” site for the food and beverage industry after concluding a 2016 Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Flex-E-Grant provided by The Center for Rural Development in Somerset, KY.
The Russell County Industrial Development Authority (RCIDA) received an ARC Flex-E-Grant for $10,000 to contract the services of Austin Consulting Group, of Cleveland, OH, to come in and evaluate the French Valley Industrial Park and provide the resources necessary to certify the park as a “Shovel Ready” site.
According to RCIDA Executive Director Bennie Garland, the certification will make the industrial park more attractive to food and beverage processing facilities because of the wastewater capacity already in place from the former Fruit of the Loom plant.
“On behalf of the Russell County Industrial Development Authority, I would like to thank The Center for Rural Development for partially funding this project,” Garland said. “With this certification, it will enable Russell County to actively recruit industries that could be large users of water and wastewater to take up the capacity that was left for the City of Jamestown and the City of Russell Springs as the result of the closure of the Fruit of the Loom plant in April of 2014.”
The certification arms RCIDA officials with a detailed report that supports the 96-acre Russell Springs business park as a suitable food and beverage plant location. The report includes 6 sections with a series of maps, letters and documentation in the areas of ownership, property, transportation, utility, community and environment – areas that often create roadblocks for companies seeking a new location.
John Bevington, deputy commissioner with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, applauded Russell County officials for looking for ways to bridge the gap created by Fruit of the Loom’s departure.
“One of the best moves a region, county or community can make to attract economic development is to take a proactive approach. And earning certifications for existing sites and parks – especially when they pertain to a target industry – stands as a chief method,” Bevington said. “A proactive approach should permeate economic development efforts, whether operating as a single agency, in concert with a consulting firm, or in partnership with multiple entities.”
RCIDA board members will travel to Frankfort on March 20th to present to state legislators and economic development leaders about the certification and plans to recruit food and beverage companies to Russell County.
“It is crucial to spread the word about the opportunities available in Russell County and the news that we are now a certified ‘Shovel-Ready’ site,” Garland said. “We look forward to having conversations that will build our already strong industrial presence.”
The RCIDA also received matching funds from South Kentucky RECC in addition to the ARC Flex-E-Grant provided by The Center.
The Center for Rural Development and the Brushy Fork Institute worked together to choose projects that align with the goals of the Flex-E Grant Program and support other regional initiatives such as Shaping Our Appalachian Region and the Kentucky Promise Zone. The grants provide a critical resource for communities to plan and implement projects that address both local and regional development efforts.
The 2016 ARC Flex-E-Grants funded 20 projects totaling $175,000 in grant funds with a minimum of 20 percent matched locally. The grants were awarded in economically distressed counties, as designated by the ARC, including Clay, Estill, Harlan, Knott, Lawrence, Lee, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, McCreary, Metcalfe, Perry, Rockcastle, Russell, Wayne, Whitley and Wolfe counties, plus a regional project for South Kentucky Economic Development (SKED).
The grants also supported projects in Promise Zone counties: Clay, Harlan, Letcher, Perry and Whitley.
For more information on The Center for Rural Development’s ARC Flex-E-Grants visit centertech.com or call 606-677-6000.