Hunt for Cabela’s Planned by Jefferson County

business-parkBROOKVILLE, Pa. (EYT) – Jefferson County economic development officials are already planning a hunting trip for Cabela’s and other outdoor recreation stores as work continues on the 166-acre Jefferson County Business Park on Interstate 80, Exit 81, also known as the Hazen exit.

When that hunting trip takes place depends on construction bids to bring infrastructure to the site that will be opened Thursday at 2:00 p.m. in the office of the Jefferson County Commissioners.

“Once those bids are opened, and just as long as they come within a range where our engineer feels they are, then the developer is telling us they are prepared to move forward, and we can begin getting the infrastructure out to the business park,” said Brad Lashinsky, director of Jefferson County Economic Development.

Private developer Nine Star Capital owns the park.

“Once we have the infrastructure out there and the park is able to tap into the municipal water and sewage, then we can start utilizing the RACP grant that is attached to the property. We’ll start running the infrastructure out through the property as well as running the access roads up through the property.”

Two studies have been done for the location, including a retail market study that looked at a 150-mile radius of Brookville and a hotel feasibility study.

Phase One of the project will bring the needed utilities to the park, and once the utilities are on the way, Lashinsky plans to start contacting possible outdoor retailers, perhaps as early as spring. Partnerships for attracting the retailers have also been formed.

“We have not yet approached Cabela’s and those types of companies yet, but we are going to because the retail market study shows enough revenue generated and spent outside our radius for outdoor recreational entities,” said Lashinsky. “We will work directly with John Stratiff of the PA Great Outdoors and Ta Brent of the Pennsylvania Wilds to go after Cabela’s, Gander Mountain, Bass Pro Shops, Field and Stream, and a smaller one that is Ohio-based at this point, Fur and Feather.”

Research has shown there are no large outdoor recreation retailers within the 13-county PA Wilds Region, and the two groups see many benefits of attracting such companies.

“Between the PA Great Outdoors and the PA Wilds, they see this as a real opportunity plus the fact that with grandstand seating at the fairgrounds, you would be able to provide events like IBO (International Bow Hunting Organization) archery shoots, trappers conventions, and so forth and really create a good set of programming to help benefit both the fairgrounds and the large outdoor recreational retailer.”

“As soon as the infrastructure gets rolling, we’ll be visiting these companies. I would say spring, even if we have to actually fly to their corporate offices. We have some contacts, but we haven’t called them yet because we wanted the infrastructure to be a little further along. I’d hate to go to all of these companies and really put the push until we get that infrastructure out there and get some of those lots shovel ready.”

Recruiting Other Businesses

Lashinsky also is planning to recruit other stores and businesses for the park once water and sewage lines reach the site.

“We’re also going to approach Sam’s Club and Costco,” said Lashinksy. “What we tried to do was take a look at Clarion County and Clearfield County and what retailers they currently have and work in a different direction and attract families from both of those counties into our area. We don’t have a real Sam’s or Costco, and we don’t want to go after a Wal-Mart and stuff that has already taken place in Clarion and DuBois and so forth. We are also approaching restaurants such as Olive Garden, Cracker Barrel, and that sort of store that is not necessarily present in those counties.”

Hotel Study Shows Need

A hotel feasibility study was also completed and it calls for the need of at least a 55-unit hotel at the park.

“We are working directly with Cobblestone Hotels in Wisconsin, and we are working with La Quinta Hotels,” said Lashinsky.

“We’re going to try and entice a second meeting with La Quinta (the company called and wanted to know if there is any restriction on available acreage) and price for acreage, or if we have to go the Cobblestone route which requires 40 percent private investment. Cobblestone said they would be more than willing to put a hotel at that location. They just opened their first one in Pennsylvania in Punxsutawney, and they have five others that are either developed or are in the process of being developed within the state. Cobblestone’s equivalent is a Holiday Inn Express.”

“We’ve reached out to the hotels at the Brookville exit, and there isn’t money for them to do needed renovations and improvements. We’re finding a lot of our larger manufacturing companies in town like Brookville Equipment, Miller Welding, and so forth that also do a lot of foreign exporting, and when individuals come to visit the companies, they either put them in hotels in Clarion and DuBois, and the result is the hotel tax money is going outside of Jefferson County.”

Additional Prospects Contacted

Lashinsky outlined other contacts made for attracting businesses.

• “We are also working with the multiple fueling locations to put a large filling station out at that location and are on our second meeting with those companies. We’re discussing acreage and price for acreage. We’ve targeted Snappy’s and Sheetz.”

• “We also have some pipe and steel companies that are discussing prices with a developer. It’s going to be a mix of commercial and industrial development, and the way the park is laid it out it will build support for those.”

• “We have two trucking firms out of Ohio that are discussing pricing and acreage. We have a large Marcellus Shale production water treatment plant that is discussing pricing, and it’s a $25 million project. We’re on our second level of meetings with them.”

Business Park Needed

“This is definitely needed for our area, and we want to develop that side of 80 which would be the north side,” said Lashinsky. “It’s truly been a community effort. The Brookville Area Chamber pitched in money for a hotel feasibility study along with Nine Star. The Brookville Municipal Authority is upgrading its current lift station to support the business park. Everybody kind of has their hands in it.”

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