GEO Group exec says company still wants to work with Hobart

2014-04-14T18:15:00Z 2014-04-14T23:35:05Z GEO Group exec says company still wants to work with HobartTimes Staff nwitimes.com
April 14, 2014 6:15 pm  • 

HOBART | GEO Group, the Florida-based company that operates privately owned immigration detention centers, wants to continue meeting with the Hobart community about the potential opportunities it believes it can offer.

Currently, there is no formal proposal from the federal government for any facility in the region, Pablo Paez, vice president of corporate relations for GEO Group, said in a written statement Monday.

"But Northwest Indiana's strong transportation network, strong business climate and well-trained workforce are great assets that make it an attractive place in which to operate," Paez said.

Paez's statement was issued one day after Hobart Mayor Brian Snedecor told a gathering of the Concerned Citizens of Hobart that he sent a message to GEO saying it would have to look elsewhere if it wanted to build a detention center.

GEO Group in November bought 40 acres in Hobart previously owned by St. Sava Church. The land is east of Interstate 65 near Robinson Lake.

The company obtained the land for possible construction of an immigrant detention facility, but it has presented no formal plans to city officials.

Snedecor said the city recent took steps to inform GEO of its duty to demolish or remedy the "deplorable condition" of the old St. Sava Hall.

"The uncertainty of your intentions coupled with your failure to engage our community has led to a loss of confidence in GEO," Snedecor wrote.

The mayor said GEO has not filed any petitions regarding rezoning the land it bought, submitted a site plan or requested a variance of other land-use actions.

In his statement Monday, Paez said GEO Group invested in Hobart because it believed there are opportunities to promote economic development and create high-paying union jobs in the city.

Snedecor said Monday he stood by his statement.

GEO has managed correctional, detention and community re-entry facilities throughout the country since the mid-1980s. Today, GEO manages 98 facilities with about 77,000 beds and more than 60 nonresidential service centers.

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