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Company ‘highly interested’ in becoming first tenant in proposed airport corporate park

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Officials of the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency say the plan to launch a corporate park at Watertown International Airport could quickly move from concept to reality, as a local cargo shipping company is “highly interested” in locating next to the airport runway.

The plan considered by the undisclosed tenant was highlighted Thursday at the agency’s board of directors meeting during a presentation by consultant David L. Mosher on the airport business park. Mr. Mosher presented findings in a 17-page report compiled over the past year commissioned by JCIDA, Jefferson County and the town of Hounsfield. His report outlines a plan of action to develop the corporate park that sets a goal of creating 400 jobs in the next five to seven years.

The report outlines action steps needed to launch the park that include developing a sewer district along Route 12F in the town of Hounsfield, expansion of the runway and other services at the Jefferson County-owned airport, and launching a marketing strategy to attract tenants from outside the region.

Luring the first tenant to the park this year would be a major step forward, Mr. Mosher said, because it would improve the credibility of state and federal grant applications for the project.

“It would move things to a real-world situation,” he said. “If you can pick up a couple of companies during the planning phases, it helps.”

Preliminary land studies will be needed to develop sewer and road infrastructure at the site, where the JCIDA owns roughly 80 acres but is trying to acquire roughly 200, Mr. Mosher said. Last year, the agency unsuccessfully applied for a $75,000 Rural Business Enterprise Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to map out preliminary work needed for the park. The town of Hounsfield application failed for a $30,000 state grant through the North Country Regional Economic Development Council to do a feasibility study for sewer infrastructure along Route 12F.

The lack of a sewer line won’t prevent businesses from locating in the park in the meantime, however, because the sewage tanks could be temporarily used to provide service, Mr. Mosher said. Sewage could be transported from the site by tanker trucks and disposed of at a municipal location in the area, he said, and that shouldn’t be viewed as a disadvantage for companies eyeing the area.

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