Option Could Help Attract Businesses To The Site

A two-year project has come to fruition to make Wildwood Ranch in west Joplin one of only a few locations designated as having site-ready BNSF Railway Co. railroad access for business and industry.

An area of Wildwood Ranch south and west of 20th Street and Central City Road is one of three sites to attain certification by the railroad for its Premier Parks, Sites and Transload Program.

John Rider, regional economic development representative of the railroad, announced the designation Monday at the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce.

The other two sites announced by BNSF are the New Century AirCenter Business Park in New Century, Kansas, and the Gateway Industrial Park in Gainesville, Texas. They bring the number of BNSF site-ready locations to 27 in the 28 states and three Canadian provinces served by the railroad.

The goal of site-ready certification is to provide BNSF with an inventory of locations that can be served by rail and are available for immediate development. The railroad has developed the certified site program as a way to meet the growing demand for those locations by business and industry.

As part of the site development process, Rider said BNSF helps organize the pre-development work to get land ready for a buyer.

The MOKAN Partnership, the regional economic development arm of the chamber, worked with Wildwood Ranch manager Jimmer Pinjuv and BNSF to obtain the certification.

Pinjuv said part of the work to prepare the location involved commissioning archaeological, environmental and wetlands studies as well as providing utilities and grading as an incentive for construction along the rail line. BNSF has provided engineering assistance for that pre-development work and will help market the location, he said.

The rail line runs through the site near the Missouri-Kansas state line, next to an existing Liberty Utilities generating plant and the Owens Corning manufacturing plant.

Toby Teeter, chamber president, said, “This is going to be the premier site in our region to attract industrial usage that requires rail. More and more rail is very competitive and growing.”

There have been a number of inquiries in the past few years about sites with rail service, he said.

MOKAN will work with state and federal economic development agencies that represent site selectors for business and industry to help locate potential businesses and industries to move to the Wildwood site, said Tony Robyn, MOKAN director.

As part of the certification, the site must obtain utilities, streets and be accessible by fire and police services, Robyn said.

“Wildwood is an important industrial park in our area because of the access to the rail line,” he said.

Source: The Joplin Globe, Author Debby Woodin