Developing and maintaining a shovel-ready site for industry in the Jamestown area requires preparation, patience, willpower and investment.
The Resource Center is looking for an area in Jamestown to build a health care facility. A proposed location is on Harrison Street, the former site of the Watkins building.
The location has been met with some resistance from City Council members, as well as Mayor Sam Teresi, who the location is one of the last in the city where a manufacturer would be able to begin development immediately.
"Our position was, this site is virtually ready to go," Teresi said. "We have been spending hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past 25 years to ready it."
Representatives for The Resource Center have stated that although the Harrison Street location is ideal for the size and type of facility they are looking to build, that they are willing to take other locations into consideration.
"We are very pleased now with the willingness of The Resource Center to resume looking at other alternatives," Teresi said.
"Our staff has been actively engaged in conversations with them right along, including the last few days since they have publicly pronounced that they would be open to other sites. We are very pleased with that. We think that The Resource Center project has a lot of value and potential for the community, and we look forward to working with them."
In the past, Teresi said, many businesses have been able to develop in the Jamestown area because the city and county invested the funds to create industrial development opportunities, and then had the patience and willpower to keep the sites available for their intended purpose.
Teresi cited businesses such as Cummins Engine, SKF and Bush Industries as having come in at times when the county and city had locations available. Although some locations took longer to fill than others, Teresi credits the Jamestown area as having those locations available.
"I just think it would be very short-sighted to give up that site for the type of development that could happen in many, many other locations in the city and, quite frankly, bring more bang for the buck," Teresi said.
Because the Harrison Street location is ready for industry to move in right now, the city is working to preserve it. According to Teresi, if a business shows interest in the community but there is no place to build, they will move elsewhere.
"When the opportunity comes knocking on the door and somebody wants to come look at your community, you have to have options for them right now. Otherwise, there is no shortage of other places around the nation and North America that are ready to go right now," Teresi said.
The Harrison Street property has sat vacant for many years. However, according to Teresi, the thought of vacant land is not reason enough to give it up.
"I can't sit here and guarantee to anyone that if The Resource Center doesn't build on that property, there will be a manufacturing firm going in there in six months, or even six years," Teresi said. "What I can guarantee is that if The Resource Center goes on that site, we will lose it permanently as an industrial development opportunity, and nothing from a manufacturing standpoint will ever be on that site."
Many of the locations in Jamestown that would be available for future businesses are not what the city considers to be shovel-ready. Most would require work, such as a building being torn down or renovated, before a business would be able to move in. And, many are privately owned.
"I don't mean to give the impression there are no options. There are options. Many, most of them, are under private ownership and control, which adds to the time and the complication factor. A lot of the options, quite frankly, need more nurturing and investment in them to get them ready to go on Day One," Teresi said.
Over the last two years, work has gone into the former Dahlstrom's complex. The city and the owner of the property worked together to get $1 million of state funding in order to assist with the demolition.
"Hopefully, in the not-too-distant future, now that work has resumed on the demolition of the former Dahlstrom's complex down on Buffalo and Second, that will yield probably another 2 to 3 acres of industrial development space," Teresi said.
According to Teresi, there were two purposes for the Dahlstrom demolition project, the first being to eliminate the public safety hazard of the building potentially collapsing.
"The other purpose of the Dahlstrom project was to clear and yield another two to three acres of industrial development space within the city limits that has all utilities available to it and access and it's zoned properly," Teresi said.
"The city does not go out and act as a real estate broker for any particular option. That would be inappropriate," Teresi said. "What we do do, which I think is appropriate, is we give multiple options and let them go out and make their own assessment as to what works best for them, and then negotiate their own deal to purchase the property."
As the city works with The Resource Center to find a location that will suit the needs of everyone, Teresi said it keeps in mind a number of other factors. He said the facility will house hundreds of jobs.
"Instead of putting that traffic down in isolation, where there's nothing else around it, find a location in the commercial area of the city or the downtown, where that traffic could have positive spin-off benefit for other commercial businesses around it," Teresi said.
The city has worked to invest in many locations throughout the years. Teresi emphasized the importance of having patience to keep a property for the purpose of industrial growth.
"History has proven that where we have invested in facilities and made them attractive and available, and where we have invested in new building sites and we've had the patience and the willpower, businesses have chosen to come and to locate there," Teresi said. "If we had not been ready, they would have chosen somewhere else."