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FRANKLIN, OH-With rail shipping becoming a more cost-effective method of business today, city leaders here realized that they had a rare opportunity when the IKO shingle plant, which has its own rail spur, closed down recently. Acting quickly, they have agreed to pay the Toronto-based firm $300,000 for the plant and 53 acres, including a 200,000-sf warehouse and three Norfolk Southern rail lines, to create the Franklin Yards transload terminal. “We’re hearing from current companies, and from companies who are looking to locate in this area, that they want rail access,” says Mike Robinette, the city’s director of finance and economic development.

R Good Enterprises, a local trucking firm, has agreed to lease half the site for almost $30,000 a year for 10 years, as well as spend more than $2.5 million to improve the site and get it ready to serve small and mid-sized companies needing rail service. The property will have equipment that will allow products to be brought in by truck and loaded onto rail cars. It’s a method that smaller communities are using to catch up with the efficiencies already practiced by large firms, and Robinette says it can give his community the difference in keeping and attracting businesses, or having them relocate somewhere else.

“We knew we needed to control the site, we wanted to allow it to be used by everyone instead of some private firm,” Robinette tells GlobeSt.com. “We know that there’s a need for this. We’re hearing from a lot of industries that trucking costs have increased, and they need alternatives. To ship a semi load of material to California costs about $6,000. To ship a rail car full of product it costs about $6,500 – and you can get four-and-a-half-times of the material on a rail car than a semi-trailer. There’s an enormous potential for savings.”

He says the new transload facility should attract new development into the Warren and Butler county areas, from companies wanting to move in to gain access. “It’s very difficult to gain access to a dedicated site, this should be a draw for our area for industrial facilities,” Robinette says. The rest of the property at the site will become recreational park land.

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