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JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Jeffersonville-based Amatrol Inc. is looking to expand its southern Indiana operations. The company plans to invest $8.5 million to acquire the former Key Electronics building in the North Port Business Centre and create 30 full-time jobs.

Amatrol designs, develops and manufactures technical training systems for numerous applications, including HVAC, smart automation, and diesel mechanics.

One Southern Indiana, the chamber of commerce and economic development organization for Clark and Floyd counties, says the building at 2533 Centennial Boulevard in Jeffersonville would grow Amatrol’s operations by 65%.

The additional 100,000 square feet of space, 1si says, would allow the company to introduce new product lines in smart automation and HVAC training equipment and e-learning software.

“Amatrol now has a plan which, with the support of local and state governments, will allow us to expand our facility to accommodate more clients in new and innovative ways,” Amatrol President Paul Perkins said in written remarks.

The Jeffersonville City Council will consider a tax abatement request from Amatrol at its Aug. 1 meeting.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. has offered Amatrol up to a total of $300,000 in conditional tax credits, which the company will not be eligible to claim until Hoosier workers are hired and trained for the new jobs.

The project comes less than three years after Amatrol announced plans for a $2.5 million expansion and 35 new jobs.

CHARLESTOWN, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A Pittsburgh-based development and management company has broken ground on a 210,000-square-foot facility at the River Ridge Commerce Center in Charlestown. MR3 Development says it is marketing the industrial building for use by a manufacturing, technology, e-commerce or food production business.

MR3 Development, which also has an office in Indianapolis, acquired the more than 15-acre site in April 2021. The company said at the time the sale would generate nearly $1.7 million in proceeds for River Ridge.

The new building is MR3’s first foray in the Louisville/Southern Indiana market. The company currently has active projects in six other states.

“We are excited to make this significant investment at the River Ridge Commerce Center,” MR3 Managing Director Andrew Molnar said in written remarks. “This is a rapidly growing area, and we are thrilled to become part of the family of companies and developers contributing to its success.”

A tenant for the building as not been announced, but construction is expected to be complete by October.

Indianapolis-based Peterson Co. is the general contractor for the project.

CLARKSVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The Clarksville Town Council has begun the process to acquire a historic property with the goal of preserving it for potential reuse. The town plans to use eminent domain to acquire the Colgate site, which once housed the state’s first prison and has sat mostly empty since 2008. Council President Ryan Ramsey says the use of eminent domain is a last resort after attempts to negotiate with the property’s current owner, Clarks Landing Enterprises Investments LLC, to redevelop the site failed.

During a news conference last week, Ramsey emphasized the effort is about preservation.

“We did not make this decision lightly,” said Ramsey. “Eminent domain is always used as a last resort when we have exhausted all other options. If we allow the site to continue to degrade for another decade, it would most likely require demolition.”

According to the Society of Architectural Historians, the site was developed in the 1840s as a second site of the Indiana State Prison before transitioning into the Indiana Reformatory in 1897.

In the 1920s, the buildings on the site were redeveloped into a factorY for Colgate & Co., which later became Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE: CL). The company remained at the site until relocating in 2008.

The town says the property has seen “depreciation and degradation” since it was acquired in 2011by Boston Development Group LLC and later transferred to sister company Clarks Landing.

“Instead of being saved and celebrated like these other Indiana landmarks, we have instead been forced to bear witness as the site becomes more dilapidated and blighted with each passing year,” the council said in a joint statement. “Once touted as the key driver for multiple redevelopment plans in South Clarksville, these buildings now serve only as eyesores.”

Town attorney Greg Fifer says the resolution approved by the council is just the first of many steps before the town could acquire the property.

Fifer says inspections of the property must be conducted, followed by appraisals to determine the property’s value. Then, the town must make an offer to the property owners via the courts.

A final decision from the court must be made before the town can take control of the site. Fifer says that process could take up to a year to complete.

Ramsey says the effort would create opportunities for reuse of the buildings on the site, but that is not the immediate concern.

“Our main goal is the preservation of the buildings on the site, the buildings that can still be saved,” he said. “In terms of how those buildings are developed, we don’t care. This is about saving those structures for future generations.”

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Officials in Jeffersonville will Thursday mark the opening of the 114-room Hilton Garden Inn and Fuzzy’s The 15th Club Food & Spirits. Indiana golf legend Fuzzy Zoeller will cut the ribbon the hotel and restaurant, of which he is a co-owner.

Zoeller and his family developed the project through a partnership with Indianapolis-based General Hotels Corp., which will manage the property.

The hotel is located near I-265 and State Road 62 near the River Ridge Commerce Center. The hotel includes a 24-hour business center, while the restaurant will feature breakfast, lunch and dinner options such as barbeque and handcrafted burgers.

Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore, SoIN Tourism Chief Marketing Officer Luanne Mattson and General Hotels CEO Jim Dora will also be on hand for the ribbon cutting.

The event is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — California-based Resident Home Inc., an e-commerce provider of mattresses and other home goods, has announced plans to open a manufacturing facility in the River Ridge Commerce Center in Jeffersonville. The company intends to lease a 300,000-square-foot building and hire up to 100 workers over five years.

The direct-to-consumer company carries mattress brands, such as Nectar, DreamCloud and Awara.

“This facility in the River Ridge Commerce Center will provide us with the capacity to meet our growing demand,” said Matt Clift, executive vice president of pperations for Resident. “We’ve been impressed with the ongoing collaboration among the State of Indiana, the City of Jeffersonville, River Ridge and One Southern Indiana to create an environment that makes sense for our business.”

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. is offering the incentive-based tax credits based on job creation.

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A survey commissioned by the destination marketing organization for Clark and Floyd counties shows residents are supportive of tourism efforts in southern Indiana and have a desire for more opportunities, particularly following the pandemic. SoIN Tourism Executive Director Jim Epperson says the organization wanted to get an idea of resident sentiment, particularly in response to other destinations that were seeing pushback against marketing to visitors. “This field of research started to emerge to help us benchmark where we are with our residents and how they feel about tourism and its positive or negative impact on quality of life,” said Epperson.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Epperson said he was shocked by the overwhelmingly positive response.

“While I wasn’t expecting problems in our results, I wasn’t expecting us to so far outpace the rest of the country, the way residents feel about tourism around the rest of the Midwest or the rest of the country,” said Epperson. “And we didn’t believe it. When we first got those positive results, we had to question [them].”

The Tourism Resident Sentiment Survey was conducted last fall by Ohio-based Longwoods International.

Among the key findings, about 75% of respondents said tourism is good for both the state and their local area, and they believe the positive benefits of tourism outweigh the negative ones. SoIN says that figure is “significantly higher” than the Midwest and U.S. results from a national survey conducted last July.

Additionally, around the same number of respondents felt tourism should be encouraged and there should be more local major events to attract more tourists.

When taking a second look at the results and the methodology, officials found the pandemic played a major role in residents’ sentiment toward tourism.

“What we found was [the results were] consistent in destinations that, during COVID, where the destination organization turned their attention to supporting local businesses…you saw that outsized positive attitude toward tourism,” he said. “It really opened up residents’ eyes about the value of tourism to the community when their favorite restaurant was hurting because they couldn’t accept in the door residents or visitors. It really elevated the value in people’s minds of the hospitality and tourism industries.”

Another key finding was that while the majority of respondents felt southern Indiana needs planned and controlled tourism development, only a third believed residents were consulted when major tourism development takes place.

“No, we’re going to be taking the results of this study to a lot of different areas, especially in the public sector, to say, ‘Here are some policy implications that we think you should be aware of and that you should consider…because your residents now have opinions about this,’” said Epperson.

Epperson says he wants to make sure SoIN Tourism is working with public bodies to ensure that there aren’t future complaints about tourism development.

You can connect to the full survey results by clicking here.

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Virginia-based Sotherly Hotels Inc. (Nasdaq: SOHO) has completed the sale of the Sheraton Louisville Riverside Hotel in Jeffersonville. The company says the deal is valued at $11.5 million.

Chief Executive Officer Dave Folsom says the hotel was identified as “an asset that no longer fit the long-term strategic objectives” of Sotherly. The hotel was sold to 808 Indiana LLC.

Folsom says the sale will allow Sotherly to “streamline its management efforts and focus on growing its core portfolio in order to maximize value for shareholders.”

In its 2019 full-year earnings report, released in February 2020, Sotherly said it planned to use the proceeds of the sale, which was originally slated to be $13.5 million, to repay the existing mortgage on the hotel and for general corporate purposes.

Sotherly did not specify if any jobs would be affected by the sale.

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A Jeffersonville-based nonprofit was ordered to pay more than $150,000 in back wages to its employees with disabilities after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor. The DOL says New Hope Services should have paid the workers the full minimum wage because it failed to meet the requirements to pay a sub-minimum wage.

Through the 14(c) certification, eligible employers are allowed to pay a sub-minimum wage to workers with disabilities as part of a federal program, but they must also provide training to help the workers succeed and be more independent both in and out of the workplace.

The investigation from the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division found New Hope Services failed to ensure its workers received such training. As a result, the nonprofit should have paid the workers the full federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

Nearly 75 employers will receive a share of the $154,443 in back minimum wages that should have been paid, according to the DOL.

“Employers who qualify for the sub-minimum wage program have a moral and legal obligation to provide the career and skills training to qualified workers as required,” Wage and Hour District Director Patricia Lewis in Indianapolis said in a news release. “Encouraging employment of adults of all abilities has a positive impact on the lives of these workers and our nation’s economy, but it must be done legally.”

A growing number of nonprofits are moving away from paying sub-minimum wage. Last year, Huntington-based Pathfinder services announced it was withdrawing from future 14(c) certifications and paying its workers the full minimum wage.

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The Ports of Indiana has announced a new cargo terminal operator for its Jeffersonville Port. Indiana Cargo Crossroads, a partnership between the Ports of Indiana and Superior River Terminals Indiana, will provide stevedoring and distribution services for customers.

The organization says the new operator will grow and diversify cargoes, make investments into facility expansions, and “drive projects that create significant economic benefits for the regional economy.”

“We are very excited to be the new general cargo operator in Jeffersonville,” Jonathan Lamb, president of Superior River Terminals Indiana, said in written remarks “It’s a great facility in a dynamic market. We’re looking forward to a long-term partnership with the Ports of Indiana, providing value to businesses in the region and growing the capabilities of and volume through the terminal.”

SRTI will operate the port’s general cargo terminal, which spans 10 acres and consists of two barge docks, a 131,000-square-foot warehouse, four acres of dock space, outdoor storage areas, and a 500-foot covered craneway with a 35-ton overhead crane.

The Ports of Indiana says the terminal has operated near capacity handling steel products for several years.

SRTI began as the new operator on January 1. Last month, the Ports of Indiana announced the Jeffersonville port set a new full-year record for handling cargo in 2021 with 3.22 million tons.

CHARLESTOWN, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Louisiana-based Sazerac Co. has announced plans for further expansion in southern Indiana. The distillery says it will invest more than $400 million to build a new facility in Charlestown and create nearly 370 jobs by the end of 2027. The announcement comes just four months after Sazerac detailed plans to expand its New Albany distilling and bottling operations with a $50 million investment.

The new facility will be built on 1,400 acres near the Charlestown State Park.

“This is an incredibly exciting project for us,” said Jeff Conder, vice president of manufacturing for Sazerac. “We’re thrilled to increase our manufacturing footprint and our workforce with steady, good-paying jobs, with wages at or above the Clark County average.”

The company did not immediately provide a timeline for construction. Jack Coffman, president of the Clark County Commissioners, says the announcement represents another major milestone for the county and region.

“We look forward to working with the team at Sazerac as they continue to build on their success and enjoy continued growth in southern Indiana,” said Coffman. “Clark County continues to make our focus on infrastructure development to attract new business and assist existing businesses to grow.”

In 2018, Sazerac announced plans to occupy the former General Mills Pillsbury plant in New Albany and transform it into an alcohol bottling plant. Since then, the company says its investment in the plant and subsequent expansions has totaled $156 million and created 250 jobs.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. has offered Sazerac up to $6.5 million in conditional tax credits, which the company will not be eligible to claim until Hoosier workers have been hired for the new jobs and investments have been made. The IEDC board must still vote to approve the incentives.

The Clark County Council and commissioners are will also consider additional incentives.