River Ridge Commerce Center | 6200 E. Highway 62, Suite 600 | Jeffersonville, IN 47130 | P: 812.285.8979 | F: 812.285.8983

People to Know in Economic Development: Dustin Coffman

Jun. 16, 2017

Louisville Business First

DUSTIN COFFMAN

BRIDGES CONNECTING DOTS FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
 

 

 

 


 


Director of finance and marketing, River Ridge Commerce Center

Years in current job: One
Years in economic development: 14, including commercial real estate development

Tell us about the biggest economic development win for your agency.
Clearly, the biggest economic development win for River Ridge has been the completion of the Ohio River Bridges Project. We base our success in part on regional collaboration and partnerships. The new Ohio River bridges are crucial to our future growth and that of thousands of other businesses. The bridges also have created enhanced mobility throughout the entire metropolitan area. The Lewis and Clark Bridge is located immediately adjacent to River Ridge Commerce Center with its first Indiana interchange leading directly to our newly developed office and research campus. This same interchange will provide access to the Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville.

What areas of the city are ripe for economic development?
We see great opportunity for development and growth throughout the region. River Ridge Development Authority places a lot of importance on the value of regionalism for the success of the area’s private sector and municipalities. River Ridge and other nearby entities depend upon the critical influence of the entire Louisville Metro area. The 6,000 acres comprising River Ridge Commerce Center are currently only 20 percent developed. Supporting and guiding our mission are five jurisdictions including board appointees from the Indiana Port Commission, town of Utica, city of Charlestown, city of Jeffersonville and Clark County Commissioners.

What can the region do better to market our area for economic development?
Companies seeking to locate here are looking for a robust, well-trained workforce and our region needs to improve our deliverables when quantifying our labor shed. A focus on regionalism and reciprocity incentives will support our area’s growth. This region offers exceptional logistics and transportation options, proximity to international and regional airports, and a Midwest location suited to readily reach major metropolitan cities. Additionally, our region offers a favorable cost of living, an exceptional restaurant scene, a dynamic arts and cultural community and excellent higher education options.

What are some benefits and drawbacks of public-private partnerships?
Without question, the largest advantage to P3 cooperatives is the ability to finance significant economic development projects that might otherwise not come to fruition. When structured properly, each side of the partnership can utilize the other’s assets and provide amenities with a lower burden to the taxpayer. While the private sector can make it easier to obtain unique financing opportunities, there is a cost associated with that debt. In this scenario, the reality of doing business includes a debt that must be repaid via operating cash flows that are expected to provide a return on investment.

What’s the most useful tool in your tool kit to encourage economic development?
River Ridge Development Authority’s most useful tool is our status as an Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ). Urban Enterprise Zones encourage private investment, create new jobs, and promote urban revitalization. The UEZ designation played an important role in positioning the abandoned Indiana Army Ammunitions Plant into a thriving development. Additionally, River Ridge is positioned to appeal to a variety of unique development needs. We can accommodate nearly any size project with ample capacity in both utilities and lot sizes ranging from three to 1,500 acres. In 2016, River Ridge contributed $1.7 billion in economic output and 12,000 regional jobs.


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