COLUMBIA CITY — Community leaders gathered last week to break ground on a new shell building in Rail Connect Business Park in eastern Whitley County.

Whitley RC Investments LLC recently announced plans to construct its second shell building at 5627 E. Rail Connect Park. Developers Whitley RC Investments LLC, the Whitley County Economic Development Corp., and local elected officials and community members celebrated at the groundbreaking event on Sept. 26.

“This is another great example of a public-private partnership, where Whitley County has partnered with a private developer to encourage private investment in the county,” noted Jon Myers, president of the Whitley County EDC. “We are always looking for opportunities to use our resources to encourage private investors to grow with us here in Whitley County.”

Rail Connect Business Park is located off U.S. 30 and County Road 600 East in Columbia City. The 98,000-square-foot facility will be expandable to 290,000 square feet. Weigand Construction Company Inc., of Fort Wayne, will lead the construction project, and the anticipated finish date is May 2019.

This will be the second spec building in Rail Connect Business Park by developers Whitley RC Investments LLC. The developers partnered with the Whitley County Redevelopment Commission in 2013 on a 70,000-square-foot facility, where local manufacturer Autoliv Inc. now resides after expanding its operations.

“Many thanks to the county for their support and for working diligently to get this started,” said Simon Dragan, of Whitley RC Investments LLC. “We also appreciate the EDC’s support, and Jon’s hard work in facilitating the project. My partner Joe D’Italia has been instrumental in the success of the Autoliv project, and I’m confident this project will be successful too. Many thanks to all who were involved.”

The Whitley County Council approved a 10-year tax abatement at the request of Whitley RC Investments LLC and the Whitley County EDC. The Whitley County Redevelopment Commission also assisted with infrastructure funding for the project to make it economically feasible.

“Rail Connect Business Park is a prime location for business. We are proud to support this project, and will continue to be proactive in supporting industrial development in our community,” Whitley County RDC Chairman Jim Argerbright said.