By the BF Staff
From the September/October 2020 Issue
Near the banks of the Ohio River in Southern Indiana, the River Ridge Commerce Center is quickly becoming the Midwest region’s premier business and industrial park. Leveraging advantages such as its central location, a large bank of readily developable land, a business friendly climate, major employers and a nearly unlimited supply of quality aquifer water and other resources, River Ridge has seen meteoric growth in the last decade. It has become an economic magnet for the entire region.
River Ridge is home to more than 60 companies occupying over 12.5 million square feet of warehouse, administration, manufacturing, and distribution space. The park’s diverse mix of companies include Amazon, Bose, Enjoy Life Foods, GE Appliances and Tenneco.
Combined employment at the center is more than 10,500, and the business park supports a total of more than 16,900 jobs throughout the region, according to a recent Economic Impact Analysis by Policy Analytics. Those jobs equate to more than $630 million in labor income and a $2.5 billion economic impact.
So what’s behind the rapid growth?
Nikki Lanier, senior vice president and regional executive of the Louisville Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis cited River Ridge’s location within a day’s drive of two-thirds of the United States as a key driver of its growth. “The location is fantastic, so logistically we’re really well located,” she said. “So there are lots of ways to move goods across this region to all parts of the United States.”
River Ridge also benefits from its proximity to Louisville, Ky., which is home to UPS Worldport, the shipping giant’s largest package-handing and sorting hub. It also has convenient access to four major interstates: I-65, I-64, I-265 and I-71 via the newly constructed Lewis and Clark Bridge. Meanwhile, the Commerce Center offers Class I and short line rail access and is adjacent to the Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville for easy access to inland waterways between the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico.
In recent years, the Commerce Center has benefited from its ability to quickly deliver for site developers and tenants. As master developer for a 6,000-acre park with nearly 4,000 acres remaining, the River Ridge Development Authority has invested more than $100 million in roads, sidewalks, site preparation, demolition, and utilities to facilitate growth. As a result, the park boasts hundreds of acres of shovel-ready land as well as a 1,000-plus-acre megasite that can accommodate up to four million square feet of manufacturing space.
“We are poised for continued growth for the foreseeable future,” said River Ridge Executive Director Jerry Acy. “We have the space and infrastructure already in place to accommodate almost any project at River Ridge.”
In addition to River Ridge’s logistical advantages, it provides numerous financial benefits for tenants. The park is an Indiana Urban Enterprise Zone and can offer relocation tax credits and other competitive tax incentives to major employers. In addition, it is near two U.S. Foreign Trade Zones that allow companies to compete globally with savings on certain import duties.
Meanwhile, the state of Indiana ranked in the top 5 in the U.S. in 2019 for business, according to Executive magazine. And Tax Foundation ranks Indiana among the Top 10 states for its business tax climate due to its low property and corporate income tax rates.
All these advantages have contributed to bring new business and jobs to River Ridge.
In 2019, the center saw strong levels of private investment. Medline Industries opened a 1.2 million square-foot logistics and distribution center, and Niagara ramped up operations at a 500,000 square-foot water bottling and distribution facility, where it already is planning an expansion. Pharmacord LLC is developing a site where it will locate 850 jobs, Layn USA is investing to create a multimillion cannabidiol (CBD) manufacturing facility, which will be the largest in the world.
Meanwhile, numerous national developers have come to River Ridge to develop speculative space that is ready for new industrial and commercial users.
In 2020, River Ridge plans to break ground on a Class A office and technology park to complement the strong growth in the industrial sector over the past few years.
“We made tremendous progress in 2019 and look forward to continuing that trend in 2020 and beyond,” Acy said. “What we hear from tenants and site selectors is this is a great place to locate and expand.”
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