Grant could help Wildwood bring in 450 new jobs
by Michael Howlett
The Blue Ridge Crossroads Economic Development Authority (BRCEDA) has requested a grant of $6 million to “competitively respond” to an active prospect that could bring 450 jobs and $100 million in private investment to the Wildwood Commerce Park.
The Megasite Grant proposal was made to the Virginia Tobacco Commission by BRCEDA in hopes of purchasing 106 acres and to extend natural gas for Wildwood Commerce Park. According to the project description listed on the Megasite Grant Proposal, the total project cost is $7,046,875 and includes a local match of $1,046,875. The project would allow BRCEDA, an economic development partnership between Carroll County, Grayson County and the City of Galax, to respond to an active prospect not listed by name with “stated job creation of 450 jobs and $100 million in private investment.”
According to staff comments and recommendation listed with the Megasite Grant proposal, the Virginia Tobacco Commission’s Megasite and Special projects programs have awarded $5.4 million to date for property acquisition, utilities and engineering of Wildwood Commerce Park, which is located adjacent to Interstate 77’s Exit 19. A graded site acquired in 2011 is immediately adjacent to the graded pad and other acreage proposed for acquisition to serve the unnamed prospect, and would be combined into a single site to meet the prospect’s needs for a 150-acre site, the Virginia Tobacco Commission recommendation states.
BRCEDA has signed an option for the graded property to be acquired for $5.75 million ($54,216 per acre). Funds are also requested for a portion of the $1.3 million cost to extend natural gas to the site, with Carroll County paying the majority of the cost, the recommendation notes.
“The proposed job creation (450 in phase I and a potential additional 150 jobs in a second phase that is not guaranteed at this time) clearly meets the definition of a mega-project, would involve revenue-sharing on a major private capital investment by the localities that are partners in BRCEDA (Carroll, Galax and Grayson) and would be a transformational project for the region,” the recommendation states.
The proposal precedes the scheduled Fiscal Year 2013 Megasite funding cycle in which applications are due by October 31. Funding decisions will be made in January 2013, well after the business prospect’s stated timeline for selecting a site by mid-October, the recommendation goes on to point out.
“In the event Wildwood is not selected the proposal can be withdrawn and replaced with a revised request in the scheduled Megasite program cycle,” the recommendation concludes. “Staff recommends award of $6 million from the FY13 Megasite budget, contingent on this prospect committing to the Wildwood site.”
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