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CSX Corp. announced this week Wapakoneta’s West Central Ohio Industrial Center earned certification under its new CSX Select Sites program.
Wapakoneta city leaders received notification Tuesday that the 471-acre site — developed using state Job Ready Sites (JRS) funds and certified by the Ohio Department of Development in October 2010 as one of the first JRS site in the state — received CSX certification as one of the first CSX Select Site.
“It was a wonderful thing to be certified by the state of Ohio as a Job Ready Site and to be among the first to receive that designation, but when you can be validated by a national company such as the CSX Corp., which is one of the largest rail providers, in a new program they have created to drive major rail end-users to come to top quality sites is just icing on the cake,” Wapakoneta Area Economic Development Council (WAEDC) Executive Director Greg Myers said. “It is a huge advantage
for Wapakoneta and Auglaize County to be able to be on that short-list of five sites that CSX has said are ready to roll — we guarantee it.”
Mayor Rodney Metz also welcomed the news of the certification.
“This is just another tool in the economic development toolbox and another group promoting the benefits of locating a business in Wapakoneta,” Metz said. “We need to realize CSX has many different connections with a lot of other people in the business world because they move large volumes of freight.
“I think gaining this certification is fantastic because it just means another company, another group of people working to promote this site and what Wapakoneta has to offer as far as utilities and an able work force,” he said. “This should be invaluable as a part of the marketing of this site. The more people we have working for one common goal then the better off we will be.”
To earn CSX Select Site designation, a site must meet a rigorous list of key criteria, including infrastructure and utility availability, environmental reviews, appropriate zoning and entitlement, air quality permitting, rail serviceability, proximity to highways or interstates and other attributes, a CSX news release says. CSX partnered with The Austin Company, a nationally known site selection and certification consulting firm, to screen candidate sites and assist communities with the application and certification process.
CSX Assistant Vice President of Regional Development Clark Robertson praised the work done by Wapak-oneta and the other sites.
“These sites represent many of the best manufacturing properties along CSX’s rail network in the eastern United States,” Robertson said. “The Select Site designation promotes shorter decision timelines, increased speed to market and lower up-front development risk for companies seeking industrial property for their manufacturing operations.
“All of the data suggests manufacturers prefer certainty in their selection of new plant locations,” he said. “We intend to assist communities across our rail network to identify sites that can provide certainty and compete effectively for these new investments and jobs.”
Robertson explained sites designated CSX Select Sites will benefit from increased marketing exposure, news releases and promotional materials and direct marketing to site selection professions.
Myers said he believes their efforts further help local and state efforts to market the site to a potential end-user.
He anticipates they will be putting time, money and effort into the process as they seek to find companies to utilize their rail services.
Myers estimated approximately 80 percent of the inquiries received by WAEDC from their own efforts and those of JobsOhio require rail service.
Myers said rail to a specific area of the site could be placed and the crossing guards installed immediately since they have met all local, state and federal requirements.
“There are very few sites that are this large and are rail served,” Myers said. “If they wanted to pull a train engine off tomorrow, we could do that. A small piece of rail is there and the switch is already in place.”