Richmond eyes ex-auto supplier site for tech park

Officials are developing plans to convert property formerly owned by an auto-parts supplier into a technology park for an eastern Indiana city.

Richmond officials will be seeking approval from the city's Redevelopment Commission this week to use money from a $5 million state technology park grant to buy 14 acres and two buildings that once belonged to Dana Corp., the Palladium-Item reported.

"We are going to start the process to establish a tech park and are excited to get this part of the project going," Mayor Sally Hutton said. "We have people interested in creating new startup businesses there but no commitments yet."

Dana Corp. once was the largest employer in Wayne County, and the foundry was its last operation in the county. About 1,000 jobs were lost when Dana closed its Richmond camshaft plant in 1987. Another 200 jobs were lost when it closed the foundry a decade ago.

Tony Foster, the city's development director, said an obsolete testing facility on the property might be torn down, with efforts concentrating on the office building at the site near Interstate 70 in the city along the Indiana-Ohio state line.

"That building provides a tremendous amount of space, room for light manufacturing in the basement and has a training room, a server room and flexible office space," Foster said. "That makes it perfect for a certified tech park type of building."

The land is now owned by a group of local investors. Foster said the two sides haven't yet agreed on a price for the property.

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