FRANKFORT, Ky. — Highlighting a state focus to speed-to-market initiatives in economic development, Gov. Andy Beshear announced a new Build-Ready site in Jackson County, the program’s first designated brownfield site.
To date, 12 former Build-Ready-certified sites, including tracts located in Barren, Butler, Christian, Graves, Hart, Laurel and Pulaski counties and five sites in Warren County, have been selected by companies for new location projects, allowing companies to bring their operations online in a cost-efficient manner while creating jobs for local Kentuckians.
Including the new site in Jackson County, the commonwealth is home to roughly 21 available Build-Ready sites. Multiple other locations across the state are currently working toward certification.
“We are building on the commonwealth’s historic economic momentum, and with that, we are continuing to build the foundation for even more growth in the years ahead,” Beshear said. “Build-Ready sites ensure companies have the infrastructure they need to start construction quickly and begin operation without costly delays that are often associated with new-location projects. This new Build-Ready site in Jackson County is yet another important step toward creating more quality jobs for Kentuckians.”
In May 2023, Jackson County was awarded funding through the Kentucky Product Development Initiative (KPDI) to turn a former industrial property into a Build-Ready site. The property was formerly home to the Mid-South Electronics facility that was lost to a fire in 2005, designating this site as the Build-Ready program’s first brownfield site. In addition to the Build-Ready requirements, the local community also produced several additional Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments through the Energy and Environment Cabinet’s Targeted Brownfield Assessment program and an intense geotechnical evaluation that cleared the site for further development.
The site includes a 140,000-s.f. building pad on nearly 17.7 acres. Along with natural gas, electric, water, phone and high-speed fiber internet provided by Bluegrass Fiber, the site offers access to the newly expanded and rerouted Kentucky Highway 30.
Jackson County Judge/Executive Shane Gabbard mentioned the significance of the site: “In my nine years serving as judge/executive in Jackson County, seeing this industrial site get this important certification is one of the most exciting announcements that we have had. It is vital to our economic and community development future. Thank you to all that were involved in making this a reality.”
McKee Mayor J. Michael Stidham expressed his excitement for the project: “As part of the Jackson County/McKee Industrial Development Authority, we are very excited about the approval of the Build-Ready status of the site and anything that can make our county grow. Anything that is good for Jackson County is good for McKee, and this is a great step forward for Jackson County!”
Mitchell Ball, executive director of Jackson County/McKee Industrial Development Authority invited businesses to the area: “Thanks to the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development for all their help, direction and encouragement provided through the Build-Ready process. If a company is looking for a location to start or expand its business/industry, Jackson County is ready and willing to help in any way possible!”
With a Build-Ready site, much of the work – aside from construction – has already been completed. That includes controlling the land to be developed, completing archaeological, environmental and geotechnical studies, constructing a building pad, finishing preliminary design work, obtaining approved site plan permits and putting necessary infrastructure in place. On a Build-Ready site, construction can begin immediately.
To be Build-Ready-certified, a site must include a pad ready to accommodate a building of 50,000 square feet with the ability to expand to 100,000 square feet or more and utilities extending to the site. Applicants – usually a city, county or economic development group – must have previously filed the necessary permits, as well as preliminary building plans, cost estimates and schedule projections. Applicants also are asked to provide a rendering of a potential building for the site.