Certified Sites Ready for Business, Neighbors Not
COLUMBIA - Neighbors near Route B in Columbia are worried that more businesses on site meant to attract new enterprises could bring traffic to the area that current roads are not ready to handle.
The certified sites program is fairly new in Missouri. The Missouri Department of Economic Development started this program in 2009 with its first site, the Ewing site, at the northeastern edge of Columbia. Columbia now has a total of three certified sites.
The appeal of these certified sites to developers is that most of the work that goes into the planning of building is already done for them. Owners of certified sites spend months compiling information on the area, doing land and environmental studies, documenting infrastructure potential, as well as researching zoning and local building permits. Once the site is certified, businesses looking to build somewhere can see the different certified locations and choose which one looks best for them.
Regional Economic Development Inc. (REDI) is the entity in charge of advertising these sites to companies. Bernie Andrews is the executive vice president of REDI. Andrews said the cites should pay off in the long run.
"These sites have been in the running for a few companies to move into over the past few years, but so far no one has decided to build," Andrews said.
Since 2009, REDI has been marketing the sites trying to get a big company to move to Columbia and build. Two of the sites are in an industrial area and Andrews said they would be perfect sites for a big company that needs a lot of power. Both the Ewing and Sutter sites are located near Brown Station Road and Paris Road, near both the Columbia Energy Center and a railroad.
"The area is already filled with other big businesses like 3M and Kraft Foods, so the area is designed for big buildings that need a lot of energy," Andrews said.
But neighbors in the area said they are not excited about the possibility of another big business in the area.
"It would be a bummer for me, because it would mean more noise and worse traffic, but I guess it would be good for the city and the economy," said Charley Christy
has lived on Lang Drive in Boone County for 50 years. He said there used to be a pond across the road where he and his children would go fishing.
"Now there is just factories and buildings and a landfill," Christy said.
He said the noise from the factories isn't too bad, but the extra traffic caused by workers is a problem.
"I can't imagine any worse traffic on this road, and if two more big companies moved in here they would definitely have to put in a light or widen the road," Christy said.
North Brown Station Road is a single lane going each way. Christy said during rush hour, it is almost impossible to turn out of his neighborhood due to traffic.
"I wouldn't be opposed to new companies moving in here because it would help create jobs, but I hope they aren't noisy or smelly, and I hope they would do something about the roads," Christy said.
Andrews said there are a few companies looking into purchasing the sites right now, but so far, no sales have been made. The city of Columbia is also planning to purchase one of the sites and hold on to it until a companies buys it and decides to build.