Local development officials want to spend $7 million to construct a building to attract businesses

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) – Local economic development officials plan to construct a $7 million industrial building in The Plains that they hope will attract business.

A screenshot from google maps about the land where the building will be constructed
A screenshot from Google Maps showing the land the building will be constructed on. [Google Maps]
The Athens County Economic Development Council applied for a large grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration that would cover most of the construction cost, said Mollie Fitzgerald, executive director of the council. Other sources are in the works to cover the remainder. 

Construction can begin once the grant money is received, but Fitzgerald is unsure when they will hear back. The building will go up even without the grant, but the timeline will be pushed back in order to find funding from other sources.  

The council is constructing the 60,000-square-foot building on spec, meaning it hasn’t lined up a tenant yet but is hoping that having a new building ready to occupy will attract businesses. The location, inside Bill Theisen Industrial Park, is ideal for the businesses economic development officials are looking to attract, including biotech, biolife and manufacturing.

“You want to be by like-minded businesses, industries, and then obviously the site is ready for development,” Fitzgerald said.

Since construction hasn’t begun, it allows for flexibility if the space will be split up or not. The Athens County Port Authority, which owns the land, would entertain the idea of a company purchasing the entire 60,000 square feet. But it also isn’t opposed to breaking up the building into multiple tenants, Fitzgerald said.

There have been conversations with several businesses both in Athens and elsewhere about occupying the building, Fitzgerald said.

“They’re looking to expand and grow, which is wonderful and we want to accommodate that expansion,” she said.