The Perfect Ocean, which has its headquarters in Stuart, Fla., was considering buying land in western Howard County for an industrial fish farm. The facility would have been part of the company’s international expansion plans, which include building 50 to 60 new fish farms within the next 10 years to provide 20 types of fish.
But residents of the Russiaville area began protesting the proposed project, including a rally last week that attracted more than 100 people. They said they didn’t want to have any type of factory setting near them, not just a fish farm.
After the Perfect Ocean learned about the residents’ concerns, the company began considering other locations and moving Russiaville further down its list of potential locations. With Saturday’s announcement, it took Russiaville off the list entirely.
Norm Schmitt, who has been leading the charge among the western Howard County residents who are against the plan, said Saturday he was happy to learn the company doesn’t plan to further pursue building near his home.
“It didn’t have anything to do with that company,” Schmitt said. “We don’t want any industry out here.”
Austin Davis, a spokesman for The Perfect Ocean, said the aquacultural business had hesitations about obtaining land in Russiaville because of its location and lack of necessary infrastructure. The residents’ responses swayed the company further.
“The reality of it is, we want more visibility to higher traffic areas, which this site does not offer,” Davis said. “We would’ve considered it later for an additional site, which would have come after we were really established."
The Perfect Ocean hasn’t eliminated Howard County altogether from its list of possible sites, but Indiana is among four states the company is looking at. The company wants to build as early as next year, he said.
“We’re still looking at Howard County,” Davis said. “The main reason is the economic development, people, the county commissioners [and] the mayor of Kokomo have all greeted us very friendly and tried to assist us in any way they could. We think the attitude in Howard County is first rate.”