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Greene County Still Trying To Get Battery Facility At Tech Park

Last updated on Saturday, March 17, 2012

(WESTGATE) - Getting a firm commitment on a major economic development project in the Greene County sector of the WestGate at Crane Technology Park is proving to be not an easy or quick task.

According to Nick Schneider, of the Greene County Daily World, Greene County Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Joan Bethell told members of the Greene County Economic Development Commission that a meeting conducted Tuesday showed the county is still under consideration for the estimated $8.4 million battery testing facility along with Daviess County.

In mid-January, local officials put together a business plan proposal to entice the battery innovation center developer, Energy Systems Network (ESN), of Indianapolis, to locate in Greene County.

Energy Systems Network (ESN) wants to locate an innovative submarine and military battery testing/warehouse facility somewhere in the tech park.

NSWC Crane is designated as the Center of Excellence for batteries among all of the Department of Defense facilities so the Greene County location is not far from the base property and very close to the interstate highway which makes it an attractive site.

Specifically, two sites are being considered. Greene County has a 35-area site near a lift station on County Line Road and a second site is north of the WestGate Academy and Conference Center off of WestGate Drive in Daviess County.

Former NSWC Commander Charles LaSota, now retired, is in a leadership role for ESN.

In December, LaSota told the Redevelopment Commission that it made sense for the battery facility to be located close to the Naval base where the military's top battery experts work every day and they have already established long-standing partnerships with major battery suppliers and users in environmental testing of power (battery) cells.

Bethell said she is not sure when a site selection decision might be forthcoming. She was expecting it to be made by the end of February.

The county is partnering with a private company to offer the best possible incentive plan.

In late January, Garmong Construction Services, Inc., of Terre Haute, entered into a partnership with the county to construct a shell facility to be located on one of three identified sites in or around the WestGate at Crane Technology Park.

According to the resolutions passed by both county commissioners and county council, the county has agreed to support the project by offering unspecified tax incentives that could include pledging tax dollars to secure facility leases for the project and other assistance that may be available to ensure the success of the project.

As part of the agreement, there is a binding $10,000 commitment from the county to pay Garmong for its services, whether the county agrees to move forward to the conclusion of the project or not.

Redevelopment Commission and WestGate Authority member Ken Gremore was apparently frustrated on Thursday morning concerning the array of incentives requested by the battery firm.

As proposed, initially the facility will employ about 20 people, but the firm is expected to draw other related supporting companies to be near it.

In a new twist, Bethell informed the Redevelopment Commission that eight to nine other developers have approached her office recently expressing interest in the project.

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