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Jackson County Economic Development Authority paying off building

Six facilities fully occupied

FAIRPLAIN — All six buildings owned by the Jackson County Economic Development Authority are fully occupied, and the agency is close to retiring the debt on one of the second-most recent acquisition.

“We’re one payment away from paying off the Royal Street property,” Executive Director Mark Whitley said during the authority’s annual luncheon meeting Wednesday.

The 108 Royal St. building was a former day care center that closed about 10 years ago. The authority purchased it three years ago from the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council for about $79,000 and spent nearly $200,000 to renovate it as a business incubator, Whitley said.

Those expenses were financed together, and a final payment of about $2,700 next month will settle that debt.

Four entities are based at the facility, including Charts Inc., which provides employee testing and related services; the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce; and Harmony Mental Health.

The final tenant, graphic design start-up AB&C LLC recently signed on as part of the authority’s Incubator and Entrepreneurship Development Program.

The authority has used the revenue from the leases of the Royal Street property and other facilities to pay down its debt.

“We had a couple of major industrial buildings that were occupied by oil and gas concerns,” Whitley said.

Addressing the debt frees up resources for more additions to the county’s business real estate landscape.

“We’re looking at building industrial buildings as well because we don’t have an empty building in the county,” Whitley said.

The next structure will probably be constructed at the Jackson County Maritime & Industrial Park, he said. It’s a way to lessen some of the risk for prospective employers by eliminating the need for them to build their own facility.

“It’s a little bit of a leap of faith,” Whitley said. “It’s all in the name of job creation and capital investments in the community.”

The only building owned by the authority that won’t be debt-free in 2020 is the former BB&T building at 1 Wall St. in Ravenswood. The authority purchased it for $500,000, and Ravenswood is turning the building into its new city hall.

A lease/purchase agreement of 10 years was approved earlier this year by Ravenswood City Council, but Mayor Josh Miller said he’s optimistic it can be paid off sooner with revenue from the planned 1 percent municipal sales tax and a prospective tenant leasing space on the third floor.

“We’ve got some promising projections,” Miller said. “I would like to set a goal to pay that off in three to five years, if not sooner.”

Although the six-figure price for the building, plus renovations and other costs, isn’t cheap, Miller said he feels the city “made an excellent deal,” given that the building is being insured for $4.5 million.

The first floor of the new municipal building — including the city clerk, water and sewer and administrative offices — is scheduled to open Monday. The Ravenswood Police Department will move onto the second floor, but that probably won’t be completed until spring, Miller said.

The third floor will house council chambers and the Municipal Court, as well as space to be leased. Miller said he’s spoken with an interested party but declined to identify the prospective tenant because no agreement has been reached.

Evan Bevins can be reached at ebevins@newsandsentinel.com.

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