The city and others remain focused on attracting developers and, with them, jobs to Pataskala’s vacant corporate park.
Pataskala’s Joint Economic Development District Board of Directors, which oversees a tax district in the privately owned park, is hopeful a still-in-development workforce integration plan will assist in the recruiting effort.
The plan is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
“What the board understood earlier this year is, even with what we felt is a really good site, we don’t have all the marketable material,” said the board’s chairman, Licking County Planning and Development Director Jerry Newton.
The park covers a little more than 500 acres in the middle of the city, between Broad Street, Mink Street, Refugee Road and Mill Street. A 300-acre section in the park has been designated a Job Ready Site by the state. Pataskala and the county used a JRS grant to build a road through the park, opening it up to future development.
Site selectors and companies have visited the JRS in recent years, but no one has committed to locating inside the park.
That has prompted the JEDD board, city and county to search for other ways to market.
One avenue under pursuit is the development of the workforce integration plan. It will, when completed later this year, highlight the park’s various available uses in addition to ways to connect nearby residents to the park and future job training inside the park.
The JEDD board received a $15,000 grant, and it hired an engineering, planning and architectural firm, MS Consultants Inc., to complete the plan.
Representatives from the firm presented the board with a draft of the plan on Oct. 8. It includes detailed information on potential uses for the park, from data centers to manufacturing and light manufacturing users. It also points out the nearby availability of utilities, such as water and sewer.
Of particular note in the draft plan is the fact it no longer appears the JRS portion of the site will need to be filled by one user, as previously believed.
Valerie Croasmun, of MS Consultants, said a representative from JobsOhio, the state’s jobs creation and economic development engine, confirmed multiple users can locate on the site.
“It always had been the belief it had to be all sold as one,” Pataskala Administrator B.J. King said.
MS Consultants presented the JEDD board with a potential site development plan showing the JRS site intersected by roads and split up into sections, including medical/office buildings, data centers, educational facilities and light industrial/warehouse facilities.
King said the city does not want to dismiss any large manufacturing users, but being able to market the site to multiple developers has its advantages.
“This makes it a little more flexible,” he said.
Still, Brian Crider, of MS Consultants, said the site has everything it needs, from available space to the required zoning to utility service to attract a large-scale user.
“Everything supports the fact you could do large manufacturing here,” he said.
Pataskala, the county and the state continue to market the site, and aside from the soon-to-be-completed workforce integration plan, King said the various partners could have another marketing tool to use in the near future.
The city recently entered the third phase of a three-phase process to have the site certified by American Electric Power. If it receives the certification, the corporate park would be one of the only such sites in the state to boast it.
“It would be a huge benefit to the city to have it,” King said.