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New county website, name for data center project coming

A new county website, a name for the data center property and $20K in economic grants were items highlighted by Prince Edward County Director of Economic Development Kate Pickett during the Tuesday, July 14, Board of Supervisors meeting.

“You all helped us move forward with the first step of the data center by approving the rezoning this evening,” Pickett said. “We also have, in the last month, met with consultants from Timmons Group and also Virginia Economic Development Partnership to strategically name the property for marketing purposes,” she said.

The consultation came at no cost to the county Pickett said later.

She told the board during Tuesday’s meeting that the following week, the Prince Edward County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) would be voting on the name, and then county staff will bring that to the board for approval.

“And after that, we’ll be able to advertise and fully market the data center site with the help of Dominion (Energy), Mid-Atlantic Broadband (Communities) Corporation and also Virginia Economic Development Partnership,” she said.

Pickett noted that earlier that week, Mid-Atlantic Broadband asked the county for a letter of support.

“They’re applying for a grant with GO Virginia and also the U.S. Economic Development Administration,” she said. “The grant would allow them to install fiber for broadband that would help connect Prince Edward County with other fiber networks throughout the state.”

She said that this broadband would go through surrounding counties and eventually go to places like Ashburn, where data centers want to be connected.

“Not only would that help attract potential data center development, but it would also obviously help further connect the county as a whole and help with residents and businesses who need further internet connection in the county,” she said.

During her update, Pickett referenced a previously announced collaboration between the county IDA and the Town of Farmville IDA to provide financial assistance to area small businesses negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said the IDAs received about 30 applications from small business owners for grants for COVID-related expenses.

“Unfortunately, many of them didn’t meet the eligibility requirements,” she said. “The committees ended up giving money to 18 businesses. Since it wasn’t an even number of 20 businesses for the $20,000, which was $10,000 from each IDA, they ended up splitting the money equally between the businesses.

County Administrator Wade Bartlett stated in a memo to the Board of Supervisors that the county has been working to develop an internal access road through the Prince Edward County Business Park off Commerce Road/Route 628. The road is necessary in order to gain access to 60-plus acres of land within the business park that is currently landlocked. Construction will include 1,500 feet of road acceptable for transfer to the Virginia Department of Transportation road system.

Pickett said the county would also be applying for a Tobacco Commission grant to help fund the project.

“It’s our allocation in the Southside Economic Development Fund,” she said. “It’s about $117,000 that’ll go to the access road project. It’s more money that the Tobacco Commission can give us to help us get that project moving forward.”

To conclude her presentation, Pickett gave an update on the county’s new website.

“We should be going live sometime next month, depending on when the company can do that for us next month, but I’m really excited for the new website,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a great opportunity to showcase the county, to be easy to use and user friendly for people so that they can easily find the information that they need and contact the folks they need and get the resources that they need. And then in terms of economic development, it’ll be a great sales tool for selling the county as well.”

The county signed an agreement with Granicus for website design, implementation and content migration for $9,625, Pickett said in a Friday, July 17, interview.