It is expected to be a major year in economic development in Union, one city official said.
“There are a lot of things that will come into fruition in 2014,” explained Community Development Director Joseph Graves.
Both industrial and retail developments are on the horizon, he added.
“There are several industrial expansion projects that we have been working with over the last few months, and some retail developments that are going through their due diligence before making any announcement,” he said.
While Graves can’t make any official statements about potential businesses locating in Union, he did note that the interest in Union has gained momentum late last year.
“Within the last couple of months I have met with several developers,” he explained. “There certainly is a lot more interest in Union, Mo.”
In August, Graves met with representatives from InSite Consulting, LLC, an industrial site selection consulting firm, through a Missouri Partnership marketing program.
InSite Consulting presented market research findings to Graves; Gretchen Pettet, executive director of ECC’s Center for Workforce Development; and Darren Lamb, Washington’s community and economic development director.
The cities of Union and Washington were selected to participate in the Product Readiness Assessment program after submitting a joint application.
“This gave us very good insight into how to better market the industrial park, and land for future development,” said Graves.
InSite representatives recommended a 60,000- to 80,000-square-foot building on a lot large enough to double, or possibly quadruple, the size.
Graves said the site consultant recommended that Union market its proximity to St. Louis.
He added that there also were recommendations for Franklin County involvement in economic development.
According to Graves, his department is now working toward refreshing the economic development website.
Graves noted that InSite representatives were complimentary of the cities of Union and Washington working well together.
Representatives of the two cities have been taking joint trips to conventions to visit site consultants.
He said the communities should “think more regionally.”
Graves noted that Charter high-speed Internet was installed along Progress Parkway near the industrial park.
“That provides businesses in the industrial park with another low-cost Internet option,” Graves said. “It is an opportunity for redundancy.”
AT&T also provides Internet at the park.
This year, Franklin County was named the first “work ready” county in the state, and one of the first in the country, by American College Testing (ACT).
Missouri and three other states were invited by ACT to take part in the work-ready program in 2012. The program aligns the work force training program with the economic development needs of communities and matches applicants to jobs based on skill level.
The program is designed to strengthen businesses by having a stronger work force, thanks to enhanced training.
“We hope to expand upon the number of certificates through working with the department of education and to continue working with ECC,” he said.
Graves’ department launched a new website last year that is “much more user friendly.”
He said the site is easy to navigate and searchable. People can visit the site at unionmissouri.org for community alerts, including boil orders or changes to the city’s trash or recyclables collections.
People also can access agendas and minutes from city meetings.
The site features a “How Do I?” tab, which is a similar to a “frequently asked question” section.