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Dingus: The Point going in right direction

SOUTH POINT - While undergoing construction at a steady pace, The Point is making progress and jobs for Lawrence County.

The Point is Lawrence County's biggest industrial park, encompassing more than 500 acres of flat land, along with 7 miles of rail spurs and 3,400 feet of river frontage. County officials believe these amenities make The Point multi-modal for businesses looking to move to the area.

"It's a wonderful site," said Dr. Bill Dingus, executive director of the Lawrence Economic Development Corporation.

Other amenities to the site include an industrial sized road and river access.

The LEDC has applied for a loan to build a second building, similar to the Engines Inc. of Ohio building which has 40,000 square feet, that will be facing Commerce Drive, Dingus said. The loan has been approved by the Development Finance Administration Committee. Dingus said that in turn, it will go before the Ohio Control Board in August for final release.

"Our hope is to get it to bid soon," Dingus said.

Ohio University will be constructing an addition to the adjacent Chamber of Commerce building that will provide training and leadership development, skill assessments and industry training, Dingus said.

"That should make a real nice addition for business outreach," Dingus said.

Along with the new buildings being constructed, existing buildings on the site are being restored.

Currently, an existing industrial building is being stripped of siding and renovated like a neighboring building in the park that was restored from 1999 to 2000. Dingus said that the existing buildings at The Point will either be renovated or raised.

"It has useable value and we try to rehabilitate instead of tear down," Dingus said of the existing buildings. "Everywhere you look, it is ample opportunity."

Dingus said 16 to 20 acres facing County Road 1 is developable and would be good for small industry.

At the front of The Point, park developers are hoping for lighter industry that includes as wholesale warehouses.

The heavy industry would be in the back of The Point, next to the railroad, Dingus said. Plans also call for the renovation of the gate area so that it will be an open park and each industry will have its own security.

The area where The Point is located was once a EPA-designated superfund site, which means that the parties involved have cleaned it up.

Dingus said all the environmental tests have been completed and, "we truly believe it is as clean as possible."

Carl Grover, president and owner of Engines Inc. of West Virginia, is in the process of opening an expansion at The Point where it will make railroad cars.

Engines Inc. of Ohio plans to start production in September.

"There are several things that attracted us," Grover said. "Tax structure of new business, rail access, the availability of new buildings and this opens us up to a new job area -

it is a new territory for us."

Grover said his company has committed to creating 50 jobs over the next three years, and most of those have already employed are Ohio residents. Grover said the business covers about a 60-mile radius with customers from Portsmouth, Gallipolis and Ashland, Ky.

"We're getting ready to build another building at The Point," he said. "It's given us a lot of opportunities."

Dingus said the new building may create 25 jobs. He said that The Point is an exciting opportunity for the county and the community.

"Things will happen with the national economy, this place will have a lot of job oriented businesses here - It's not far off," Dingus said. "I think the time is coming that this will be a large job center in Lawrence County."