Marathon Speedway station to be a welcome addition to Oakwood I-74 exit

via The News-Gazette

On the heels of celebrating a $15 million investment in the newly-opened Love’s Travel Stop along Interstate 74 in Oakwood, local officials are eagerly anticipating yet another development this year in that area.

“It’s very exciting,” said Bob Parr, an Oakwood Village Board member, who met Thursday with representatives of the project: a Marathon Speedway store and gas station. Parr said that while semitrailer trucks and passenger cars can fuel up there, it won’t be an actual truck stop.

In other words, big rigs won’t be able to park there for more than two hours at a time.

“I’ve been working on this project for two years,” said Parr, relaying that Oakwood was contacted by Marathon officials about the site that Love’s acquired, but the company found this new site, a 6-acre parcel on the south side of Oakwood’s I-74 interchange, directly across from the McDonald’s restaurant. Parr said construction is expected to begin late this spring.

Total investment in this latest Oakwood-area project is expected to be $7.2 million, and it will employ 30 to 35 full- and part-time workers, according to Vicki Haugen, CEO and president of Vermilion Advantage, a nonprofit organization that works to facilitate economic development in Vermilion County.

Haugen, whose office recently released a year-in-review report of economic development activity in 2018, including the two Oakwood projects, said last year was a good year for development throughout the county.

“It really was, and 2019 is shaping up to be even stronger,” said Haugen, whose report summarizes a dozen projects last year in which Vermilion Advantage assisted with new business developments or expansions.

The biggest was the announcement of a $20 million building expansion at Flex-N-Gate Plastics on Lynch Road east of Danville that will result 134 more full-time jobs once complete.

And Vermilion Advantage said it has four active prospective projects in the works — three manufacturing and one professional office development — though Haugen said she is unable to disclose too many details.

One of the manufacturing projects, said Haugen, has moved forward with purchasing and closing on an existing, vacant facility in the area and will make an announcement soon.

That prospective manufacturing project and two others would all provide new job opportunities, she said.

The Danville area is one of three finalists — the only site in Illinois — for a manufacturing project that would provide 70-plus jobs, she said. A second prospective project would bring a $55 million investment and around 200 jobs starting in 2020, and the third is a food manufacturing project that would provide 30 to 40 jobs. The prospective professional office development would be more than a $65 million investment, but a total job count is not yet available, according to Haugen.

And as for existing area businesses, many expect to be hiring soon and no layoffs are anticipated, according to Vermilion Advantage, which is finishing up its quarterly survey of local employers that looks back at the last quarter of 2018 and ahead to 2019.

“We need more people who are skilled to fill some of these jobs,” said Haugen, who added that Vermilion County is facing the same challenges as the rest of the nation — finding qualified, skilled people to fill available positions. “There are a lot of strong indicators moving forward. So we expect it to be a good year.”

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