For Licking County, 2017 will be marked by large development projects, along with the completion or continuation of infrastructure improvements to help handle the growth.

For Licking County, 2017 will be marked by large development projects, along with the completion or continuation of infrastructure improvements to help handle the growth.

Commissioner Tim Bubb said that the new year will carry on the momentum generated in 2016.

"Right now, 2016 was huge for us in terms of development, all across Licking County," Bubb said. "All of the county, but particularly those townships bordering Franklin County, are seeing tremendous growth and development pressure because of workforce availability. The development is happening, and I think 2017 is going to be just as busy."

Among the most significant developments will be American Electric Power's construction of a regional distribution center at Licking County's Job Ready Site and Pataskala Corporate Park. While plans were proposed earlier in 2016, Bubb said AEP purchased the 100 acres needed for the site last month, with an option on the other 200 acres of the Job Ready Site. Bubb said the site will serve as AEP's construction headquarters and staging ground for its Midwest and Northeast operations.

Construction on the site should begin this year and continue over the next couple of years, Bubb said. AEP also has set aside about 15 acres for the development of a new substation at the site, he said.

And as the Job Ready Site sees improvement, 2017 also will include movement on the Seminary Ridge Business Park.

"It's just on the cusp of getting started and should be coming online in 2017," Bubb said.

Purchased from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus, Seminary Ridge is about 300 acres near Heath; it is under the direction of the Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority. Plans for a next-generation industrial park are included in the Port Authority's 10-year capital plan, with enough space for about 13 buildings.

In time for that development, Bubb said, is the completion of the Cherry Valley interchange, which included a restructuring of the old interchange at Cherry Valley Road on state Route 16. He said the improvements would be vital to supporting additional traffic and development through Heath, Hebron and on to the Port Authority.

"There are more than 1,000 developable acres along there, and there is huge potential for development," he said. "This improves both safety and traffic flow, and is the first shot across the bow of future development for the next two decades."

Newark will continue to see infrastructure work in 2017, Bubb said, as crews complete a $19 million modernization of the sewer and water systems downtown, along with a $9 million restoration and renovation of the county courthouse.

editorial@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNews