The growth of the 6,000-acre River Ridge Commerce Center, an industrial business park in Jeffersonville, could be the future home of several major companies and is expected to eventually draw 40,000 jobs.
It already is, of course, the home of a fulfillment center for Seattle-based Amazon.com Inc., which employs about 3,000 workers there.
As today’s cover story in our weekly edition attests, the entire region is likely to benefit from River Ridge’s growth, from the commercial real estate sector to Kentuckians and Hoosiers who want higher-paying jobs.
Another potential beneficiary: Clark Regional Airport.
John Secor, manager of the airport, told Louisville Business First earlier this week that the airport will be positioned to house jets for companies that make large investments in River Ridge and build sizable facilities there.
Most of those companies, he said, likely will have corporate flight departments that could store their planes at Clark Regional during local visits and buy fuel before they depart.
“As River Ridge continues to grow, this airport is in a perfect position for those companies to use” its facilities, Secor said.
The airport, which is about five miles to the northwest from River Ridge, is in the midst of a $29 million project to extend its main runway by 1,500 feet to 7,000 square feet, which will improve safety for aircraft and allow it to better accommodate larger planes.
The $29 million million project will make the airport more attractive for potential new clients, Secor said.
Clark Regional Airport is owned by the South Central Regional Airport Authority, and Secor said talks have started between airport and River Ridge officials on how they can work together.
One idea being “toyed” with, Secor said, is a road that would connect the airport to the Indiana 62 corridor fronted by River Ridge. River Ridge executive director Jerry Acy also mentioned the possibility during a recent interview with Business First.
The project is not official, so we don’t have costs or timelines. But it is more than a thought as River Ridge starts to take shape.
Secor, who also works as a pilot with United Parcel Service Inc., said the potential for Clark Regional is vast, particularly if a major company arrives at River Ridge and wants to base its corporate flight operation at the Southern Indiana airport. Secor said there about a dozen corporate tenants store jets there now, though he declined to identify them.
And as he sees it, Clark Regional could be used in the future to directly ship or deliver packages for River Ridge companies.
Secor said that if the airport drew enough interest, officials would be open to creating a logistics operation. He could envision a regional freight operation at the airport as part of a possible partnership with UPS (NYSE:UPS), for instance.
For now, that might seem nothing more than a pipe dream, but Secor said airport officials are not interested in maintaining the status quo.
“I think we’re in a good position to offer something here at Clark Regional we haven’t in the past,” he said. “… We’re hoping to take this to the next level.”