Census Bureau’s new River Ridge site preparing for 2010

The U.S. Census Bureau’s National Processing Center in Jeffersonville is getting ready for the 2010 population survey by ramping up operations at a new assembly facility at River Ridge Commerce Center in Southern Indiana.

Commercial Real Estate Louisville Business First By John R. Karman III  –  Staff Writer

Feb 23, 2009 Updated Feb 20, 2009, 8:00am EST

Since Jan. 1, more than 150 newly hired employees have been working at the site, assembling survey kits used by Census Bureau personnel who will be out in the field, going door to door to collect data.

The kits being assembled at River Ridge include such items as training materials, documents, manuals, pencils, pens and paper clips — the essential tools used by field workers known as enumerators.

The River Ridge facility has ample staffing now, according to David Hackbarth, director of the bureau’s Jeffersonville processing center, but it will require more workers in the future.

Employment at the site eventually will rise to more than 500 mostly temporary workers, he said. Hiring for the positions will begin in August.

Also in August, the Census Bureau, which currently has about 2,700 local workers, will begin adding temporary data-processing personnel at its main Jeffersonville campus, which is scattered among multiple buildings at the former Army quartermaster depot along East 10th Street. The bureau gathers census information there through mailings and telephone calls.

Hackbarth estimated that the bureau will need another 2,000 workers for the 2010 census.

Bureau may expand at River Ridge site

The U.S. General Services Administration, which oversees federal property, owns the Census Bureau’s main campus, which has about 1 million square feet.

The GSA signed a short-term lease last fall for 335,000 square feet at River Ridge to house the assembly operation.

The bureau is the only tenant in a 450,000-square-foot center developed at the Southern Indiana business park by Louisville-based Crossdock Development.

Hackbarth said the GSA signed a two-year lease for the Census Bureau space with two, one-year options.

The bureau has the capability to expand within the building, he said, and might need the remaining 115,000 square feet.

Strong competition for Census Bureau center

The Census Bureau deal was a welcome one — particularly given the slowing pace of the local industrial market — for developer Lee Wilburn, president of Crossdock Development.

His general contractor on the project, Floyds Knobs-based AML Inc., readied the unfinished site in fewer than 90 days after the signing of the lease.

Wilburn described the lease negotiation process with the GSA as “lengthy and rigorous,” adding that it included extensive background checks and interviews with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“We had competition,” Wilburn said. “We competed for this assignment with other buildings and other developers throughout the region.”

The developer’s success at River Ridge is prompting him to expand his operations at the Jeffersonville park, a former Army ammunition plant.

He plans to build a 300,000-square-foot shell for a warehouse building at the site later this year. The facility could be expanded to 1.2 million square feet at a later time.

Development robust at Southern Indiana park

The positive momentum of River Ridge bucks the trend of a slowdown in the local industrial real estate market.

In addition to Wilburn’s Crossdock Development, another Louisville-based company, Capstone Realty Inc., is developing more than 2 million square feet of industrial space there. Its fourth warehouse of more than 600,000 square feet is under construction.

The growing business park is successful because it offers “a great product,” said Matt Hall, vice president of economic development for One Southern Indiana, the chief economic development agency for Clark and Floyd counties.

River Ridge “is getting a significant amount of recognition,” Hall said.

Hackbarth said the Census Bureau chose the Crossdock Development site because it offers “lots of efficiencies,” including the ability to house shipping, receiving and printing operations for the kit assemblies under one roof.

In preparation for the 2000 census, the bureau had to spread its kit-assembly process across several buildings in Jeffersonville because it couldn’t find a suitable site for the entire operation, he added.

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