The EastPark Industrial Park became the first industrial site in eastern Kentucky to earn Build-Ready distinction on Friday, at a time when the park’s board has struggled to sell property but believes momentum is shifting.
Companies looking to move into an industrial site that has Kentucky Build-Ready status can circumvent normal red tape processes and start construction immediately after buying or leasing on-site property. The Build-Ready program was created three years ago, and now includes 14 sites with the addition of EastPark.
Build-Ready sites must prove to be turnkey-capable by including a pad 50,000 square feet or greater — expandable to 100,000 square feet or more — and utilities that extend to the site’s edge. The designation also means necessary permits, including water, environmental, archeological and geotechnical are on file, as well as preliminary building plans, cost estimates and schedule projections.
The applicant must also provide a rendering of a potential building for the site. In EastPark’s case, the Ashland Alliance — which is essentially the chamber of commerce for Boyd and Greenup Counties — provided the application and documentation to the state.
Alliance President Tim Gibbs said the organization is “trying to be at the forefront” in eastern Kentucky in terms of economic growth.
“We have momentum and we want to build upon it,” said Gibbs. “This is another one of those pieces to the puzzle.”
The opening of a $1.3-billion aluminum mill in nearby South Shore by Braidy Industries, which will employ 550 workers, is spurring local optimism that the announcement will magnetize more companies to the region. The mill is set to open in 2020.
EastPark is located about 30 minutes from South Shore. It’s a 1,000-acre property created by the state in the mid-’90s atop a reclaimed strip mine. The park encompasses the counties of Boyd, Carter and Greenup Counties, which fund it along with Lawrence and Elliott County.
No property had been sold at the park for more than two years until last spring. A medical waste company bought a small parcel, but has yet to break ground. The lack of new business at the park compelled its board members to seek more funds from all five counties to foot utility bills, and the loan payment on a $2.2-million spec building built in 2002.
Gibbs and local elected officials believe the new Build-Ready status will help reverse the trend.