Economic Development Corporation works to bring jobs to county


Jon Bond is the president of the Switzerland County Economic Development Corporation. It is his job to find the different pieces of the puzzle that may lead to a business or industry locating here — and providing jobs.

But he’s also a native of Switzerland County, and that means what happens to the future of this county is both professional and personal to him.

The Switzerland County Economic Development Corporation is a relatively new entity to this county, having been established by the Switzerland County Council last year to guide efforts to attract jobs. During this first year, the corporation has been involved in many different ventures, and as the economic climate in the area, the state, and the country continues to change; the corporation hopes to be on the cutting edge of attracting some of that industry to the county.

Last year the Economic Development Corporation took out an option on almost 200 acres of land. Once that land was secure, the corporation went about beginning the process of doing the research involving the likelihood of an industrial park being located on the site.

“You have to look at things like, ‘If we do this, can we fill it up?’” Jon Bond said. “Is it out of the flood plain? Do we have the necessary utilities? There are all types of things to consider.”

Jon Bond said that it normally takes about 19 months to go from a agricultural field to an industry being located there; so the trick is to have the site all ready for a company to begin construction the day they walk on the site.

There is also a lot of excitement surrounding Switzerland County that may lead to big things here.

Jon Bond said that there is a “mystery company” that is looking to build a new facility in either Ripley or Decatur County — either close to Batesville or Greensburg. This would allow the company to take advantage of the highway.

“Although we don’t know a lot about it at this point, we do know that the company’s minimum space requirements means that it’s going to be big,” Jon Bond said. “Something that big doesn’t come without a supply chain, so we will be working to attract those industries that will be supplying the bigger industry with parts and supplies.”

But the biggest economic feather in Switzerland County’s cap will come with the completion of the feeder highway that connects the Markland Dam to Interstate 71. The road is on schedule to be finished this summer, and Jon Bond believes that it will open up all sorts of new possibilities for industry to locate here and expand because of the easy access to the interstate system.

“Ten years from now, that road may have a bigger impact on this county than Belterra has,” Jon Bond said.

He says that as new industry being created around the Lexington, Kentucky loop will also need those types of “feeder” industries to supply parts and other services. In order to not create job force competition, those smaller industries will want to locate 60-90 minutes from the bigger industry.

With the new highway — that’s Switzerland County.

“That’s why the Switzerland County Economic Development Corporation has been looking into the development of an industrial park,” Jon Bond said. “We feel it’s the best way for the county to take advantage of this new highway.”

Jon Bond said that the development of industrial parks give communities flexibility, because it gives them the option of planning where in their community or county that they want industry, which is a good thing and helps with overall planning.

The double-edged sword for the Switzerland County Economic Development Corporation is that the best place for a new industrial park to be located in order to take advantage of the new highway across the Markland Dam is near the dam — and because of Belterra, that land is very valuable.

With 200 acres under option, Jon Bond and his team feel that Switzerland County is on the right path to attract new industry. He has been working on the development of Broadband access for the county — something he feels is an absolute necessity to attract business. The Internet has made it easier for business to find and build in new areas, but that has shrunk the timetable for acquiring and opening a site from two years down to about six months.

That shrinking timeline makes having a viable industrial park something that Switzerland County must have.

Jon Bond reports that the Switzerland County Economic Development Corporation had 94 prospects come through during the last year. Of those, 50 were looking for green space to build on; while others were looking for existing buildings.

“Exciting things are happening around us,” Jon Bond said.

— Pat Lanman