Change could benefit park
The Prince Edward County Business Park could benefit from state legislation recently signed into law by Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
Currently, the size of industrial sites that qualify for assistance from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) must be at least 250 acres. The size requirement will drop to 100 acres under Senate Bill 976 and House Bill 1591.
“If we were awarded such a grant,” Prince Edward County Administrator Wade Bartlett said of grants VEDP hands out to help develop sites to draw in businesses economic development, “it would greatly assist the county in developing that land, which is fairly rough and will be fairly expensive to develop. And it potentially then could provide us with a much larger pad that what we have now, which would allow us to be in the running for projects that we can’t support now because our pads are smaller. So, it could allow us to build buildings of 100,000 sq. ft. or larger.”
A pad is a piece of land that has been engineered to construct a building on.
According to its website, in 1995, the Virginia General Assembly created the VEDP “to better serve those seeking a prime business location and increased trade opportunities and, therefore, to foster increased expansion of the commonwealth’s economy.”
According to the adopted legislation, the VEDP “may develop a site and building assessment program to identify and assess the commonwealth’s industrial sites of at least … 100 acres. In developing such a program, the (VEDP) authority shall establish assessment guidelines and procedures for identification of industrial sites, resource requirements and development oversight.”
The 105-acre business park in Prince Edward is undeveloped, Bartlett said.
Noting the park “would qualify” for grant and financial assistance from the VEDP under the legislation, Bartlett said “at the moment, there are no plans by VEDP to open a new grant cycle. They will, they just don’t know when they will do it. They closed the last grant cycle, I believe on like May 9. They have not even awarded those grants for, I think it was for 250 acres and greater.”
According to Buckingham County Administrator Rebecca S. Carter, the county doesn’t have any sites that would qualify under the legislation’s new acreage requirement.
“The 100 acres certainly will help us to meet that demand as we strive to find a suitable mega site to market,” Carter said. “As you know, our park in Dillwyn has been rezoned and separated so that space does not qualify. A really great opportunity may be in marketing some land (not owned by the county) that may have the natural gas availability. I know there is a shortage of ‘mega’ (250 acre sites) in Virginia. Most rural counties will be able to provide the acreage but will find a hardship to provide all of the utilities necessary to have a marketable site. I would hope VEDP could work with the localities to assist with funding to have ‘ready sites.’ This would benefit the state as well as the locality.”
“We, in Cumberland, are analyzing ways to leverage not only the opportunities created by this legislation, but all economic development opportunities supported by the state and federal governments,” County Administrator and Attorney Vivian Seay Giles said regarding the legislation. “We continually explore opportunities to develop Cumberland County.”
“It has a possibility to be helpful,” Bartlett said of the legislation. “I’m just not sure how much money there will be available for that, and we’ll just have to see.”
Prince Edward’s business park is zoned industrial and commercial.
Work is underway in a portion of the business park, making way for the move of the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Dillwyn residency to Farmville.