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Authority talks growth

County leaders across the Heart of Virginia continued discussion on generating economic growth, creating greater internet access and developing increased educational opportunities during the Virginia’s Heartland Regional Industrial Facility Authority meeting Tuesday.

C.R. “Bob” Timmons Jr.

Prince Edward County Buffalo District Representative C.R. “Bob” Timmons Jr., a member of the Southern Go Virginia Region 3 Council, said the second round of accepting applications is underway, and the next Region 3 Council board meeting will take place in November.

“It’s moving,” Timmons said regarding the application process. “And the second round is due, those applications need to be — get to submitting those in quickly.”

The discussion for proposals that could generate growth included supporting aims for increasing internet connection, growing educational opportunities for advanced certifications for mechanical engineering and technologies and providing a building to which large companies could relocate.

“If we want to attract industry to the Heartland, to Amelia or to Lunenburg … they’re not looking for empty fields anymore,” said Gary Walker, regional chair and chair of the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors. “They want some product. They want some property to buy.”

Cumberland County Administrator and Attorney Vivian Seay Giles said widespread internet access and giving adults and young adults opportunities to receive advanced certifications in mechanical engineering, technology and manufacturing will create long-term economic change.

Vivian Seay Giles

“Every single dollar should go toward these programs,” Giles said, “because nothing else is going to transpire until that issue is solved.”

She noted that internet access is also imperative for students in school, noting businesses can locate to areas with higher speed internet connections.

“Children don’t get to choose where they live,” Giles said.

Prince Edward County Administrator Wade Bartlett noted the internet’s impact on both large and small businesses, particularly those that rely upon cellular data.

Wade Bartlett

“With your phone, you and I can get stuff, even though it is expensive. You’ve got data restrictions,” Bartlett said. “That’s the restricting problem with just relying on your phone systems.”

Timmons also noted the necessity of workforce training in profitable industries.

“We can have all of the buildings we want. But if we don’t have a workforce, they are just going to be empty buildings,” Timmons said. “Along with having product, if we have the certification in our area … I think that would go a long way.” 

Walker encouraged county leaders to meet with their boards of supervisors during their November meetings to discuss and potentially make a decision to partner with different localities for economic growth.

The next Heartland Regional Authority meeting will take place Jan. 23, 2018.