A city park and residential neighborhood located near an industrial park are not ideal in attracting industries, but they aren’t a deal breaker.
That is according to Union’s Community Development Director Joseph Graves who reported findings from a site consultant visit to the personnel, finance and public works committee last week.
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.
After Graves submitted a detailed report to officials, Alderman Jim Albrecht questioned the city’s Veterans Memorial Park location near the industrial park off Progress Parkway.
“One of the fatal flaws (in the consultants report) is a park,” Albrecht said. “That’s a no-no.”
He added that the InSite Consulting stated that an industrial park should not be located near a residential neighborhood. Construction of a 47-unit senior living center, Oak View Village subdivision, is under way near the industrial site.
“In a perfect world, an industrial site would be one mile away from residential areas,” Graves explained.
He noted that neighborhoods and parks are not ideal in attracting an industrial prospect, but it does not shut the door on a potential prospect.
Graves explained that the firm evaluated the communities’ industrial parks, buildings, available land, marketing materials and the ability to complete a RFI (request for interest).
“Last year they had 175 site consultant visits, and they said our RFIs and sites are among the best they have seen in two years,” Graves said.
He noted that InSite complimented the city on having sewer, water, fiber optic and natural gas lines extended to the industrial park.
“When they do have a proposal in the back of their head, and in the filing cabinet, they will have Union,” Graves said.
InSite representatives recommended a 60,000- to 80,000-square-foot building on a lot large enough to double, or possibly quadruple, the size.
According to Graves, the city of Union, the Union Development Corporation (UDC) and the city of Washington are discussing a potential joint speculative building.
“Nine out of 10 prospects look at available buildings,” he said.
Graves added that even if the building wouldn’t accommodate a particular industry, it is important to make the trip to Union.
Graves said the site consultant recommended that both Union and Washington market the city’s 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.”