RUSSIA — Seeds planted over a decade ago are moving closer maturity in the village of Russia. The major difference is that the expected future harvest will be jobs, not crops.
“The 55-acre property was bought by the Village of Russia around the mid-1990s,” said Mark Shappie, who serves as the Village’s administrator, zoning officer, and utilities superintendent. It was agricultural land converted to an industrial park in 2004. “Then, in 2014, we put the bridge across Nine Mile Creek … The sewer was put in three years ago in 2019 … and then it sat there ever since. Now we’ve got two grants to be able to expand it.”
The first is a $200,000 Ohio Public Works Commission grant. “We usually apply every year, and this year we were able to get it for new infrastructure,” Shappie said.
Two years ago, the developer, Ed Luthman, principal of Cemleb Properties Ltd., purchased a building in the village and expressed an interest in building a second speculative building there — if the Village could provide some financial help. The two worked together and, along with the Dayton Development Coalition and Choice One Engineering in Sidney, the village of Russia and the site developer were able to secure a second grant, called the Ohio Site Inventory Program (OSIP) grant. The grant offers to fund 50% on building infrastructure, while the village and the developer will split the remaining 50% of costs.
According to the JobsOhio website, “The Ohio Site Inventory Program (OSIP) offers grants and low-interest loans to support speculative site and building development projects with no identified end user … Program funding comes from a combination of grants and loans to be used as a development accelerator that fills current funding gaps.”
Installing the water line is part of the new infrastructure bill for bid-winner Steum Construction, located in Sidney, that will be putting in a new street, Commerce Drive, this spring, said Shappie.
Cemleb Properties Ltd., plans to use two acres and begin construction on a 12,000-square-foot building, with the goal of either renting or selling it.
The project is exactly what the village needs for economic development and resident growth.
“Job creation was the big push to get things started at this industrial park,” Shappie said. “We’re down to one industrial lot building lot right now,” he said, when referring to the Village’s other industrial park properties — one on East Main Street, one on Industrial Park Drive, and one on Simon Road — that are dedicated primarily to light manufacturing.
“After this project, there will be 53-acres still available for development without any plans on how it will be divided. So, if a company wants to come in and buy 20-acres, we have the capability to do that. They just need to talk to the village, and we’ll get them pointed in the right direction,” said Shappie.
As a further incentive to draw new businesses to the area, the entire village of Russia qualifies for a Community Reinvestment Area (CRA) tax abatement, meaning that any company coming to the area qualifies for up to 15 years of local tax-free operation. After the 15-year period, the property taxes collected primarily go to support the local school district. The village taxes deducted from workers’ paychecks also primarily are redirected to benefit the schools.
The village has not yet started to widely advertise the property’s availability for development.
“Currently we are advertising locally, but once we get this building built, we will expand our marketing for the land,” Shappie said.
Businesses and developers who would like more information about building in the Commerce Drive Industrial Park location, should reach out to Shappie directly by phone at 937-526-4436, or by email at [email protected]