County mulls economic development partnership


John Jessup

HANCOCK COUNTY – Officials are considering enlisting a team of experts in development, transportation and utilities to help achieve economic development goals in the county.

The Hancock County Board of Commissioners will determine whether to enter into a public-private agreement with Hancock County Development Partners LLC over the construction, design, development and transfer of various infrastructure, improvements and facilities.

The group is made up of professionals with BW Development, GM Development, Surge Development, BW Construction, RQAW, American Structurepoint, Stifel and Avenew.

According to its proposal, the team would lead the county through the process of developing infrastructure near CR 200W and Interstate 70, where officials have said an interchange will eventually be needed. The group also proposes a comprehensive evaluation of Buck Creek Township and the Mt. Comfort Corridor.

“Our proposal intends to address the infrastructure needs of current projects in process and to create shovel-ready development sites to attract jobs, investment and residents to the area,” the document states.

The group reports it would provide complete planning, design and construction for the interstate interchange; career and workforce development, educational and training facilities; fire, police and public safety support; road improvements; gas infrastructure; electric and data communications infrastructure; water main extensions and improvements; sanitary sewers and wastewater capacity improvements; drainage improvements; improvements to support residential development; and rail infrastructure.

Hancock County Development Partners proposes entering into a scoping period with the county, utilities, service providers, state agencies and developers to collect information required for the proposed improvements. That information would be used to complete a design from which construction, project costs and financing terms would be identified and presented to officials for consideration.

A preliminary schedule anticipates the scope, costs and financing to be presented to the county in November and construction starting in March 2023.

John Jessup, president of the Hancock County Board of Commissioners, said the goal of the initiative is to be proactive, not reactive.

“We’re trying to figure out how to bring that big list of needs that we have in a way that we can lump them together and get them to work off each other,” he said.

He noted officials have been eyeing an I-70 interchange at CR 200W for a long time.

“It’ll help traffic flow and facilitate the residential growth we’re going to see in that area of the county, as well as commercial and industrial growth,” he said, adding it should also help alleviate traffic on Mt. Comfort Road.

Jessup also hopes the efforts will result in a partnership with utilities to provide better water and sewer services to parts of the county like the Mohawk area.

He’s looking forward to working on a facility that would provide vocational and adult education as well. All four of his children attended a vocational school of some kind, he said, and all had to travel out of Hancock County to do so.

“We have four A-plus schools in Hancock County and we have no vocational hub for all their children to go to,” he said.

Jessup added he’s familiar with everyone who’s part of Hancock County Development Partners and that they’re capable of delivering a good project.

A public hearing on the proposed agreement is at 8 a.m. Aug. 30 at the Hancock County Courthouse Annex, 111 American Legion Place, Greenfield.

Hancock County Development Partners was the only submission to the county board of commissioners’ request for proposals and qualifications for the initiative.