KINGSBURY | The first company is close to going up at a rail spur at Kingsbury Industrial Park, and steps were taken Wednesday to make ensure the beginning of a possible job creating machine there.
Now that the extension of railroad tracks to the site is nearly completed, ''hopefully they will get the trains rolling,'' said LaPorte County Commissioners president Willie Milsap.
The commissioners approved a second amended development agreement negotiated between the county and developers, Providence Logistics and the Halfwassen Group LLC.
The second agreement is a tweaking of the original development contract that offers more protection for La Porte County to recover the $6 million it put on the table to help put in the infrastructure at the 600-acre site now known as INland Logistics Port, said Matt Reardon, director of the La Porte County Office of Economic Developoment.
Changes in the agreement also simplifies the process for prospective firms to buy ground they want to construct their businesses, Reardon said.
Without the changes, Reardon said it's possible interested land buyers would go elsewhere where the process might be less complicated and risky.
''If things become too difficult to occur, there's always other places that are accommodating and welcoming and we want to make sure the Kingsbury park is exactly that – accommodating and welcoming for new investment,'' Reardon said.
LaPorte County attorney Shaw Friedman said the second agreement includes procedures similar to what banks use to protect their loans.
The county is using its share of Major Moves money to help put in the infrastructure.
Another $6 million for infrastructure was provided by the state and CSX, which is nearly done extending two miles of rail to the site from an existing rail line.
From the beginning, the site was placed into a tax increment financing district so the increase in assessed land values from the development goes toward paying back the county its $6 million so those funds can be applied toward other developments.
Friedman said the amended agreement also requires the developers once their lots are sold to use other adequate parcels they own as collateral as another safeguard for making sure the county recovers its share of the cost for the infrastructure.
Friedman said a firm called Green Express from Tampa, Fla., is close to buying ground to put up a cold storage warehouse to store produce and other food brought in by train until loaded onto trucks for delivery to the consumer.
He said the changes in the agreement were aimed at securing the deal and others expected to follow suit from other logistics companies.
''There appears to be a real, live customer. That appears to be imminent,'' said Friedman, who added Green Express could close on the land acquistion later this month.