It’s been four years since officials broke ground on the Kentucky Trimodal Transpark just north of Bowling Green, Ky.
The Transpark was supposed to add thousands of jobs, generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and be a shining example of what an industrial park with air, rail and highway access could be.
The site now houses two schools and one manufacturing business, but supporters had hoped there would be more commercial tenants in the Transpark by now.
Over the years, two local groups opposing the project, filed 13 lawsuits against the Transpark, the city and the county. They lost every one of them, but Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon said those lawsuits have cost the project nearly a million dollars in legal fees, plus more than 3,800 jobs and $100 million in unseen revenue from industries that did not relocate here because of the bad publicity the lawsuits generated. Despite that, city and county officials still say the Transpark is working and will make money.
The major business in the Transpark right now is Bowling Green Metal Forming, a Canadian company that makes automotive frames for the Ford Explorer, F-Series trucks and Taurus.
Jim Hizer, president of the Intermodal Transportation Authority said the company employs nearly 1,000 workers and provides $64 million-a-year to the area economy. These stakes mark the spot where Howa USA will set up shop in the Transpark.
Howa is a Japanese company that makes automotive parts for the interiors of Toyota, Nissan and Honda. It will employ 61 people and Hizer said it will contribute another $6 million-a-year to the economy.
Two other tenants in the Transpark are a high school trade school and a technical college. The property was originally paid for with $25 million worth of mortgage bonds issued in February 2002, but because of improvements made to the Transpark, Bowling Green’s City Commission now wants to re-finance the project using general obligation bonds.
Warren County Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon said the primary source of revenue to pay back the bonds is a Job Assessment Fee on the income of Transpark employees.
The city and county are still each 50 percent liable for the Transpark. So what’s the liability to U.S. taxpayers?
“The new bonds will not change the percentage of the guarantee, nor will it necessitate us to start making payments as long as it can generate the jobs in this facility. And it looks like, with the activity we’re experiencing out there now, that they’re going to start generating a significant number of jobs,” Buchanon explained.
So, is the Transpark working?
Both Mayor Walker and Judge-Executive Buchanon say “yes!”
Hizer said the $70 million boost the Transpark is already providing the area each year, is phenomenal! He said even if no new businesses came into the Transpark, the city of Bowling Green will still get $14 million in occupational taxes from the park over the next 17 years.
For more information on the Transpark www.kentuckytranspark.org.
To learn more about the businesses calling the Transpark home visit Howa USA, Inc. by click here and visit Bowling Green Metal Forming by visiting their parent companies, Magna and Cosma, by click here.