First in a series
Eight years ago this week, Corey Murphy began serving as the New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Director. Since then, he and his dedicated team consisting of Penny York and Kelli Wasson have become such good jugglers, local officials hope the circus doesn’t lure them away.
Murphy gave not one, but three reports at Tuesday’s New Castle City Council meeting, covering not only the local EDC efforts but also the Board of Aviation Commissioners as well as tourism activities.
“Thank you for wearing a variety of hats on behalf of your adopted community,” City Council President Rex Peckinpaugh said.
Today’s article will focus on the EDC. Saturday, we’ll feature Murphy’s remarks about the local airport. Tuesday, the series will conclude with the EDC’s latest mission: taking over local tourism.
Helping businesses through the pandemic
Murphy’s office has been the hub of grant fund distribution for businesses hit hard by COVID-19. He reported that the EDC office has administered $458,400 in grants and $58,000 in loans.
“You add both of those together and that’s more than $500,000 in business response,” Murphy said. “We’ve helped keep 519 employees on the payroll. It’s been a tremendous response, thanks to your leadership and people like Carrie Barrett, county government, federal grants, private contributions.”
Turning brownfields into greenbacks
Meanwhile, a new round of Environmental Protection Agency money could turn local brownfields into greenbacks for the community.
“We are off to the races,” Murphy said. “We were awarded $400,000 last spring. We’ve already looked at five sites and two of them are in Phase II, where you actually do some drilling.”
Murphy encouraged council members to let his office know if they were aware of any property that is suspected of having some sort of contamination due to prior use.
“The EPA wants us to have a 30 percent draw down of the $400,000 by the end of the year,” Murphy said. “We’re going to have no problem using those funds.”
It’s the second such EPA grant for the EDC. The first one brought $500,000 here for brownfield evaluation. By the end of the current grant, nearly $1 million will have been accessed to help the Henry County economy.
Shell building update
Murphy told the council members they would be getting an invitation soon for groundbreaking of a new “shell” building to help attract companies looking for a place to expand. He expects groundbreaking to take place in March.
The new shell building will be constructed on a 15-acre site north of Boar’s Head North – which, by the way, was the former shell building. This new structure would contain 50,000 square feet and be expandable to 100,000 square feet. It would be constructed on land the Henry County Redevelopment Commission already owns.
“We’re going to build 50,000 square feet but the drainage will support 200,000 square feet,” Murphy said. “We’ll have additional land available. We’re also going to be building a road connecting Brooks Drive and Commerce Drive. So when you turn onto Commerce and you’re going to Gillman’s, there will be a new road to turn right that will bring you down Brooks Drive.”
Murphy said the new road would open up land the EDC already owns to encourage smaller development and also serve the shell building.
NEXT: Murphy updates the council on the local airport