Daily Reporter Staff Reports
GREENFIELD — NineStar Connect, a utility company operating in east central Indiana, has officially become the first rural co-op in the United States to offer four utilities under one umbrella organization: electricity, fiber optic communications, water and sewer services.
The utility recently received its certificate of territorial authority from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, which licenses it to provide water and sewer services.
NineStar Connect anticipates having its first customers at the end of September when it closes on its purchase of Sugar Creek Utilities at Riley Village in Hancock County and Greenfield Central wastewater plants in Maxwell and Eden.
The expansion into wet utilities keeps with the utility’s mission to provide the infrastructure needed to empower economic development and improve quality of life for residents in rural Indiana, said Michael R. Burrow, NineStar Connect President and CEO.
“Two-thirds of the land in Hancock County currently is un-served by any water or sewer utility, and the lack of access to wet utility infrastructure is a hindrance to residential and commercial economic development,” Burrow said. “Traditionally, developers don’t want to improve land that is served by private well and septic systems.”
NineStar is building capability for water and sewer utilities as it’s needed, officials said.
“NineStar’s ability to add wet utilities on demand opens up thousands of acres that now can be considered for development in Hancock County,” said Skip Kuker, executive director of Hancock County Economic Development Council.
The availability of wet utilities from NineStar Connect already has already positively impacted economic development in Hancock County, according to a news release.
County Materials Corp., a manufacturer and distributor of high-quality concrete and related construction products, recently made the decision to upgrade its existing Maxwell facility in Hancock County with the construction of a manufacturing plant, which will employ approximately 80 full-time employees during peak season. The availability of wet utilities from NineStar Connect was seen as a key positive for the company as they evaluated the construction of the new facility, officials said.