Washington city officials are actively working to acquire land for a sixth industrial park. The effort comes as the last two large lots in the Elmer C. Heidmann Industrial Park recently came under contract.

None of this should come as a surprise to those who follow the city’s economic development efforts. The city has been aggressively working to attract industries and businesses to our community for decades. A key element of that effort has involved the development of industrial parks. Take a drive through any of Washington’s five existing industrial parks, and you can see they have been successful.

Washington Community and Economic Development Director Sal Maniaci confirmed the city’s long-term economic development strategy when he said recently, “We always want to have land available for companies and businesses.”

So does every other community in Missouri. But it’s not always easy.

The competition for economic development is fierce and often involves generous incentives. Everyone is fighting for the jobs that accompany new businesses and industries.

But being successful in economic development often turns on the availability of suitable sites for companies to develop. Industries often need to move quickly when they decide to expand or relocate. Communities that have available property for development have a leg up on the competition.

Washington’s forward-looking economic development strategy on land acquisition for industrial parks has served it well over the years. It takes time, hard work and sometimes patience to develop industrial parks. It definitely takes a collaborative approach and a willingness by city leadership to provide the necessary infrastructure, resources and other support.

There is no question developing industrial parks is an essential element of creating an environment that encourages economic growth. It has made a difference in Washington.

So have the other partnerships the city has forged with the Missouri Department of Economic Development, East Central College and the Four Rivers Career Center, among others, which provide crucial workforce development support.

Washington has been fortunate to have dedicated civic leaders involved in its economic development efforts over the years. They include those who volunteer on the 353 Washington Redevelopment Corporation, the Washington Industrial Authority and the Washington Civic Industrial Corporation. These entities play an active role in guiding the city’s industrial development efforts.

They are part of an economic development ecosystem that has steered dozens of industries and businesses to our community over the years. It is a collaboration that has worked well in the past and one that we predict will serve our city well into the future as it embarks on the next phase of industrial development.