CLARK COUNTY — Though many activities have been cut off for the last several weeks in Indiana, a few select industries were designated “essential” by Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Among those granted the ability to continue operations was business revolving around construction. This news was welcomed by the River Ridge Development Authority when it was announced.

Since then, the board has been active in continuing the development of vacant property in the sprawling commerce center. An update on how things have been moving along during the pandemic was given by board members at their remote meeting on Monday.

“We’ve got some activity going on,” executive director Jerry Acy said. “It’s not like everything came to a standstill.”

A couple of projects that stand out to Acy are set to see ramped up activity in the coming weeks. Two new companies are in the construction phase of projects.

The first is a hemp processing plant, where initial work has begun. In the next several weeks, Acy said the structure could begin to rise from the ground.

“The way that they’re making progress, I would hope sometime in May we’ll see a structure going up,” he said.

PharmaCord, a pharmaceutical company, announced its plans for the site around the turn of the year. Construction is a little further along for that project.

Acy expressed excitement over the company’s presence, as it fits with River Ridge’s vision and will bring more quality jobs to the area.

“They’re expected within a few short years to have 800 employees based on their trajectory,” he said. “We’re excited about that. Pharmaceutical is one of our target industries. We feel like it’ll bring good paying jobs. It’s a good investment, and that’s what we like to see.”

Though prominently featured in the discussion, those two aren’t the only active projects at River Ridge. Other structures are also nearing completion.

America Place is set to complete its new facility soon. Van Trust has started site work on an industrial building that will start off with 500,000 square feet, eventually being expandable to over 700,000 square feet.

Gray Construction has a few projects in the pipeline, including a 250,000-square-foot industrial building that’s heading to the market. In addition to that, the developer has also purchased another 40 acres on the site.

“They’ve started some demolition on the old Army buildings, and they’ll be building another couple of buildings in the 250,000-square-foot range,” Acy said.

The Charlestown end of the property is becoming more of a focus for the River Ridge team. Much of the former ammunition plant sits in Charlestown, with the city comprising roughly a third of the commerce center’s land.

That land is being cleared to make it more developable so that companies can erect new structures. A 50-acre sale is currently in the pipeline, with more expected to come.

As the land begins to take on a new form, Acy and the rest of the River Ridge team have tried to pay homage to those who came before. This has come in the naming of streets.

While many of the roads bear industry-related terms like Logistics and International drives, some have taken the names of families who owned land prior to the ammunition plant, including Lentz and Hilton. Moving forward, Acy said the board will look to identify others worthy of recognition.

“They basically gave up their homes to build that plant,” he said. “We have several roads named after them. What’s been emphasized more recently were maybe some of the state officials who were instrumental early on in the development of the commerce center. We’re still working with the board on coming up with same names that would be appropriate in that regard and what would be acceptable to our appointing authorities.”

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