It’s no secret that the housing market is currently booming not only at the local level, but also state and nationwide. Unfortunately this presents issues locally with the lack of housing options available to bring in those families that are helping to fill the workforce positions in the county.
Roger Winslow recalled during his time with Voltmaster for many years that 52 percent of the workforce filling those positions locally did not reside within Wayne County. With East Penn purchasing Voltmaster in 2006 and more than doubling battery production along with the 2018 announcement of the $190 million expansion which would bring forth an addtional 200-plus jobs, this is a troublesome thought when realizing the lack of housing existed before the expansion began.
“Several houses in Corydon and Wayne County have been remodeled for new owners and renters however three years later, we as a community have struggled to provide modern, affordable workforce housing,” said Winslow. “East Penn has given Corydon and Wayne County a golden opportunity and we as a community can and should make the best of it.”
The Corydon Housing Project, LLC which includes members Roger Winslow, Mark Winslow, Mairi Winslow, Darrell Cook, legal advisor for the LLC Jenna Lain and Paul Koester. The members of this group have been actively working to move towards the housing project that was discussed during the presentation held on May 26 at the Prairie Trails Museum.
With invitations sent to local contractors, electricians, realtors and those that would find the housing project of interest, the main goal was to present the opportunities for creating more jobs for those local subcontractors as well as a way to continue to boost the local Wayne County economy while doing so.
Roger introduced a map to the audience showing the layout for the the area that extends east beyond East Anthony Street. The map was broken down into lots that showed the real possibility of providing eight duplexes, four triplexes and one fourplex that could accomodate 32 families along with an additional eight to 10 single lots that could provide housing abilities for 8 to 10 additional families.
“If this whole business was easy, more people would be doing it,” stated Roger. “The fact it has taken this long to have two groups in town trying to get more affordable housing when there ought to be 10 groups . . but there’s not because it isn’t easy.”
Preparations in moving forward with this project would include preparing the site and underground infrastructure. This would include sewer, water, electricity, natural gas, and fiberoptic cables along with paving of sidewalks and streets including the extension of East Anthony Street.
While this would be a costly investment, Roger noted it was of importance and vital to the project.
Using his wealth of business knowledge, Roger brought up the story of the most notable non-profit organization of Paul Newman and his salad dressing brand, “Newman’s Own.” He interest peaked on non-project organizations when the issue of workforce housing was raised.
Through research he found a better understanding of 501(c)3 charitable organizations and feels they will be a vital key to this project. Fortunately, Wayne County is blessed with volunteer-based organizations including Corydon Community Development Corporation, Wayne County Development Corporation, Wayne Community Foundation, Corydon Housing Association and the Wayne County Housing Committee and will be looking to utilize these organizations for the project.
While Roger admits there have been delays along the way, he remains hopeful dirt can begin being moved this summer and states the important takeaway is through the Corydon Housing Project, all money invested will stay in Wayne County.