One year after receiving a $6 million grant from the Virginia Tobacco Commission (VTC), the Wildwood Commerce Park in Carroll County has been recommended to receive an additional grant of $962,500 from the VTC.
Carroll County Administrator Gary Larrowe informed the Carroll County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) of the recommendation by the Tobacco Commission’s Megasite Committee during the Authority’s Dec. 4 meeting. The Blue Ridge Economic Development Authority’s (BRCEDA) Wildwood Commerce Park was one of five megasite recommendations made by the Tobacco Commission for Fiscal Year 2014. In total, the VTC received five requests seeking $20.7 million. The Commission budgeted $12.5 million for Fiscal Year 2014.
According to information from the Virginia Tobacco Commission, BRCEDA requested $3,862,500 to increase the existing sanitary sewer capacity available to Wildwood Commerce Park from 114,000 gallons per day to 550,000 gallons per day. Funds would be used for the engineering and construction of sanitary sewer collection system upgrades.
“BRCEDA has identified food product processing as a suitable industry to Wildwood, which typically requires a minimum of 500,000 gallons per day of sanitary sewer capacity,” according to the recommendation from the VTC Megasite Committee. “BRCEDA has identified food processing as one of five industry sectors for Wildwood. A food processing facility would be the largest consumer of public water and wastewater services. Therefore, BRCEDA is planning utility upgrades to accommodate the greatest demand for these utilities.”
Wildwood currently has an available water capacity of 1.3 million gallons per day but an existing sanitary sewer capacity of 114,000 gallons per day.
“Increasing the sewer capacity to 550,000 gallons per day will better position Wildwood for food processing company projects,” the recommendation states.
To date, BRCEDA has received $11.4 million of Tobacco Commission funds to acquire and develop Wildwood, which now entails more than 270 acres under public ownership adjacent to Interstate 77’s Exit 19. Of that total, 118 acres consist of graded pads, and natural gas is being extended to the site in 2014 using a portion of the $6 million grant from the previous fiscal year.
BRCEDA’s engineers have indicated that the sewer upgrade could be broken into two phases, with the first phase providing engineering and construction that would increase capacity to 300,000 gallons per day at a cost of $962,500.
“BRCEDA proposes that matching funds come from the annual debt service on a $5.3 million loan it took to acquire the initial acreage in 2011. Twenty months of debt service equals $594,280 of matching funds during this sewer construction period,” the recommendation states. “This request, particularly if phased, appears appropriate to make this site ready for the targeted industries (food processing, etc.) being recruited to the site by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, aCorridor and BRCEDA. Staff recommends award of $962,500.”
Larrowe told the Carroll County IDA that the full Tobacco Commission would meet January 6-7, 2014 to consider recommendations by the megasite committee. IDA member Barry Hicks asked Larrowe if he thought the $962,500 recommendation would be approved.
“They should get approval of the $962,500,” Larrowe said. “I think once the megasite committee has spoken, it is going to be difficult to turn that around.”
Larrowe said while BRCEDA did not get its full request of $3,862,000, the VTC’s Megasite Committee only recommended total funds of $12.7 million out of $20.7 million, and BRCEDA received $6 million last year. The other four recommended projects were in Danville, Greensville County, Martinsville and Sussex County.
“We were the only ones approved by the committee for Southwest Virginia. Everything else was in Southside,” Larrowe said. “I thought we did pretty well in getting anything, remembering we ended up getting a huge chunk last year, $6 million. That was an unbelievable amount of money for us to be able to get.”