Milton parcels certified shovel-ready

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Jim Leute
Tuesday, October 8, 2013

MILTON—None of Rock County's three business parks certified as shovel ready has attracted a developer, but county officials believe the sites plus shovel-ready parcels in Milton announced Tuesday make the county more attractive.

Rock County 5.0 announced Tuesday that 115 acres in Milton's Crossroads Business Park have earned the Austin Consulting shovel-ready site designation.

With the addition of the Milton parcels, Rock County has approximately 600 acres of independently recognized shovel-ready property. The other sites carrying the designation are in Janesville, Beloit and Edgerton.

In Milton, the designation covers four parcels that range from 18 to 55 acres.

So far, no business has taken advantage of the county's shovel-ready certification.

James Otterstein, Rock County's economic development manager, said that's because new, greenfield developments have been virtually nonexistent in the Midwest in recent years.

Otterstein said that trend is changing, and he's seeing more new development projects on vacant sites in the Midwest every month.

Rock County 5.0's certification program, he said, is intended to put local properties ahead of others when companies are looking for development sites in the area.

“As the city of Milton prepares to leverage the opportunities created by the recently completed Highway 26/59 bypass, this shovel-ready designation will fulfill an important supportive role with regards to the development of the Crossroads Business Park,” Jerry Schuetz, Milton's city administrator, said in a news release.

“The depth of information and related processes that have been clearly identified throughout this designation process will enable the city to effectively, as well as efficiently, address the park's development needs," Schuetz said.

A shovel-ready designation is increasingly playing a larger role in today's build-to-suit development environment, Otterstein said.

In partnership with the individual communities, Rock County paid its site selection consultant to certify the parks as shovel-ready.

The consultant reviewed more than 200 variables at each site and compiled a report that addresses ownership, property, transportation, utility, environmental and community issues. The idea is to eliminate barriers that might dissuade a company from locating in any of the sites.

Because the certification work is done, prospects could start construction in as few as 30 days and avoid a six- to eight-month delay while they pay someone else to certify the property.

In addition, prospects can use a full suite of tools Rock County 5.0 offers about each of the sites, including an online portfolio of building designs that meets building codes and the requirements of the county's four shovel-ready industrial parks.

Frank Spano, managing director of Austin Consulting, said the shovel-ready designation process follows the methodology businesses use when selecting sites.

By using the tools in a community's shovel-ready report, prospects can cut time, expense and risk, Spano said.

Rock County 5.0 is a five-year public/private economic development initiative designed to reposition and revitalize the local economy. The initiative's efforts are focused on business retention and expansion, business and investment attraction, small business and entrepreneurship, real estate positioning and workforce profiling.

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