In telling the story of Clark and Floyd counties, one must start with the seven-mile Ohio River Greenway that connects New Albany, Jeffersonville and Clarksville in southern Indiana, according to Jim Epperson, executive director of SoIN Tourism.

“It’s the focus of gathering, recreation and exercise opportunities,” he declares. “Currently, it’s bookended with great downtown redevelopment in New Albany and Jeffersonville, where the downtowns have flourished with restaurants, dining, bars, breweries, wineries, distilleries and retail.

“And Clarksville didn’t have a downtown. They’re working on downtown redevelopment in what’s called the South Clarksville Redevelopment District. That’s mixed-use retail, residential and entertainment south of the former Colgate plant (and clock tower).”

The Ohio River also is home to Origin Park, a 430-acre space on its north shore (Indiana side). Located 1.5 miles from downtown Louisville, it will be accessible year round – including during flood season.

“We have to meet nature where it is,” notes Susan Rademacher, executive director of River Heritage Conservancy. “The Ohio River is a mighty force and it has an ongoing dialogue with this landscape. And we’re learning how to make the most of that, live with it and find value in that through this park.”

Epperson adds, “That’s the next big development that’s really going to complete the picture of that riverfront experience. It’s a generational project. It’s not going to happen overnight, but it’s already happening.”

Several economic announcements encompassing Clark and Floyd counties in the past year illustrate a variety of attraction and expansion projects. Among them:

  • HealthTrackRx opened a $3.5 million medical testing center in Clarksville. The PCR-based (polymerase chain reaction) infectious disease company is headquartered in Texas.
  • RxLightning located its headquarters in New Albany. The organization improves speed of access for patients to specialty medications through a digital platform.
  • Sazerac of Indiana LLC (parent of Northwest Ordinance Distilling) announced plans to expand its production facility in New Albany. The business is one of America’s oldest family-owned, privately held distillers.
  • Technical training organization Amatrol’s approximately $8.5 million expansion in Jeffersonville adjacent to its current facility.

“We’ve got great people and we’ve got great regional partners,” emphasizes Wendy Dant Chesser, president and CEO of One Southern Indiana. “I’ve said it a million times: Economic development is a team sport and we’ve got a great team with a great bench. That includes our elected and municipal government officials as well as our county government. We’re pleased that we’re able so far to meet the needs of the businesses who are looking at our area.”

Health Care Innovation

HealthTrackRx specializes in molecular infectious disease testing ranging from COVID-19, colds, the flu and other respiratory infections to urinary tract, sexually transmitted and wound infections and more. Multiple facets attracted its leaders to Clarksville.

“The reason the lab in Clarksville is so strategically important is that we have a partnership with UPS as the exclusive infectious disease lab in their end-of-runway extractions program at the Louisville Airport,” executive advisor Ben Favret stresses. “Location-wise, Louisville Airport is as far west as you can get in the Eastern time zone. This enables us to get patients and their health care providers results the next morning.

“It’s big for the patient. It’s big for the provider. Physicians want to give the right antibiotic the first time. They don’t want their patients to end up in the ER or the hospital. Our mission is to get people healthier faster. It’s that simple. The lab we built in Clarksville is central to accomplishing that mission.”

The move has been so successful that HealthTrackRx is planning to invest another $9 to $12 million over the next two or three years to expand the lab operation.

“The current lab is fully operational,” Favret proudly declares. “Originally, we were supposed to staff it – over a three- or fouryear period – with 60 employees. But we’ve exceeded that by far.”

In addition to economic incentives there was another appeal: community involvement opportunities.

“They’ve (One Southern Indiana and others) helped us promote our job fairs and have made introductions with people in the community,” Favret emphasizes. “Those are all important. One of the things that speaks to our culture is what we do in the community with the Child Advocacy Center. Connecting us with the community has been a tremendous benefit.

“Our leadership team put together welcome bags for the kids who enter the center and supported the center at their annual fundraiser.”

RxLightning launched during COVID in 2020 as a remote organization. “Specialty meds are like cancer meds, transplant meds, rare diseases, etc.,” remarks CEO Julia Regan. “They’re very high-cost meds. They’re traditionally used for life or death matters, and the (process is) pretty complex to get a patient on them.

“What we’ve done is we’ve created a tracker across that medication journey. So, patients, doctors and other parties that are involved in the process know exactly what’s going on, what’s next to ultimately get them on the medication quicker in a more affordable way. And we’ve seen what used to take potentially weeks or months to get a patient on therapy get down to less than a day,” she describes.

“We’ve seen tremendous results and impact on patients’ lives. When you think about lightning, it’s about (how) the speed of light is as quick as possible. So, for us, we think it’s unacceptable that people that need these medicines have to wait and have to have the additional emotional toll on when they’re going to be able to start. And we want to give back time to people by helping facilitate getting them these medications that could truly save their life.”

One reason RxLightning expanded in New Albany is the city’s dedication to growing and evolving the community.

“I love the community here and the support for what we are doing is just phenomenal!” Regan shares. “The people are wonderful. There’s a ton of health care in the Kentuckiana area, and because of that, we were able to find really great, great people and talent. The biggest thing is just the community is really a huge supporter of it.”

While Dant Chesser is thrilled with southern Indiana’s success, she asserts, “I have no reason to think that it is time to take our foot off the gas. We still need to accelerate through these opportunities because (future generations) are going to benefit from the work that we do today.

“If we’re only trying to maximize today’s advantages (it’s not enough). We’re not doing our job if we stopped looking 10, 20, 30 years down the road.”

Written by Symone Skrzycki for BizVoice Magazine