Tim Leeds Havre Daily News email@example.com
The Hill County Commission is meeting Thursday to discuss revisiting having the county create an industrial park near Havre. Commissioner Mike Anderson said Tuesday that the meeting, set for 11 a.m., will simply be to decide whether the county should look into the issue, not to vote on actually creating a location for businesses to set up operations. Part of that discussion will be looking at the funds the county has available for such a project, he said. “That’s what we have to do some digging into,” Commissioner Kathy Bessette said. Bear Paw Development Corp. recently met with the commissioners to tell them that businesses are interested in moving into the Havre area, but that without some kind of location like an industrial park available, they might choose other locations. “I know that there’s significant interest, particularly in biofuels,” Paul Tuss, executive director of Bear Paw Development, said at the meeting, adding that the interest is not limited to that industry. “ There’s a lot of opportunity but limited places where we can tell them to go.” He said that Havre may have lost some businesses interested in buildng here to communities that do have industrial parks, like Shelby and Great Falls. Tuss said that having an industrial park also fits in with the growth policy Havre and Hill County are in the initial stages of having written. It would allow planned growth of industry in the area without having industrial businesses spring up haphazardly around the area, he said. Anderson said he believes an existing five-acre industrial park, created by the county west of town in 1979, has helped spur development in that area. “Long before our time they took the initiative to run infrastructure out there and that is where development has occurred,” he said during the meeting. Red Rock Drilling LLC now leases space on that industrial park. The county was prepared to move forward on building an industrial park last winter, when a company interested in building a biodiesel plant said it would locate its plant on such a park. At the last minute, that company decided to pursue other options and the plans for the industrial park fell through. At the meeting, Anderson said he was in favor of building the park at that time and still is, with one reservation. He said having a tenant ready to locate on the property was a significant incentive in the previous plan. “I don’t want to just go out and build this hoping they will come,” he said. “If we do have an anchor, I don’t see any downside to this.” Anderson said Tuesday that the county has an industrial park fund created by the revenue from the existing industrial park. The prices of land and the exact amount in the fund would be a key to whether the county would be able to proceed on a deal. Tuss said at the meeting that creating an industrial park also opens possibilities of additional funding for its development. He said there are funds, such as programs administered by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, that could help pay for developing the infrastructure of a publicly owned site, such as installing water and sewer lines.