By Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE - The Vigo County Industrial Park on Wednesday became one of seven new sites designated under a state economic development program as "shovel-ready," qualifying it for expedited permits for new development.

The 195-acre designated shovel-ready site is on the southwest corner of the county's industrial park, about 10 miles south of Terre Haute. Vigo County is the largest of the seven new sites certified through the Indiana Economic Development Corp. The other sites are in Blackford, Daviess, Madison, Monroe, Orange and Wayne counties.

With the seven new sites, there are now 55 designated shovel-ready sites statewide.

Vigo County's industrial park has about 400 total acres still available for development, but the certified site holds a marketing advantage.

"We think the Vigo County Industrial Park has been shovel-ready for quite some time. The proof is in the pudding, by the companies that have been able to locate there, but having the formal shovel-ready designation gives us another tool that we'll have going forward when we market the property," said Steve Witt, president of the Terre Haute Economic Development Corp.

"It provides additional comfort [to prospective business] that we have done a lot of the homework necessary prior to development that will allow companies to get under construction and in operation in the absolute shortest time possible," Witt said.

Shovel-ready certified sites have undergone extensive title work, proof of ownership, legal and environmental review and qualify for expedited permitting with state regulatory agencies. The Terre Haute Economic Development Corp. is eligible for a matching grant of up to $10,000 to reimburse costs to apply for the state program.

The statewide shovel-ready sites are listed on the Indiana Economic Development Corp.'s Site and Building Database at www.indianashovelready.com. The site allows site selection consultants and businesses to research available commercial and industrial properties available for quick development.

Passed in the 2005 legislative session, shovel ready sites have been certified since 2006 by the state's Fast Access Site Team that consists of representatives from the Indiana Economic Development Corp., Governor's Office, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Indiana Department of Transportation, Indiana State Department of Health, Indiana State Department of Agriculture and the Indiana State Department of Homeland Security.

"With more and more companies looking for sites where they can have a shovel in the ground as quickly as possible, this program gives Indiana an advantage when it comes to competing with other states for new investments and new jobs," Mitch Roob, Secretary of Commerce and chief executive officer of the Indiana Economic Development Corp., said in a statement Wednesday announcing the seven sites.

"We want to make the site selection process as easy as possible for prospective companies looking to bring new jobs and investment to our state," Roob said.

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