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ARC funding recommended for Wildwood

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The $500,000 grant comes just a month after the regional commerce park received $3.8 million from the Virginia Tobacco Commission.

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The Commonwealth of Virginia has recommended a federal Appalachian Regional Commission grant of $500,000 for water and wastewater extensions to the Wildwood Commerce Park site in Carroll County.
To date, the regional economic development project has received $5.3 million in grant awards toward its initial $11 million budget, according to the Blue Ridge Crossroads Economic Development Authority (BRCEDA).
In January, the Virginia Tobacco Commission awarded a $3.8 million grant, which will be used for engineering and related costs, in addition to funding the construction of water and sewer, an access road and fiber optic communications.
The award followed a 2010 tobacco commission grant of $1 million for BRCEDA’s acquisition of the 167-acre site off Interstate 77's Exit 19.
“We are approaching a dollar-for-dollar match between grants and local dollars necessary to develop the Wildwood Commerce Park,” said Ken McFadyen, regional director of BRCEDA. “With a project of this size and scope, having one grant dollar for every local dollar is a significant accomplishment for the region’s economic development initiatives.”
The Virginia Tobacco Commission awarded a total of $20 million to seven megasite projects in Southside and Southwest Virginia in January. Megasite projects are defined as those that should generate at least 400 jobs and $250 million in private investment.
The grant award to BRCEDA of $3.8 million represents the highest award made among the three projects in Southwest Virginia, which also included Washington and Smyth counties.
“The work that Carroll, Galax and Grayson are dedicating through BRCEDA is showing results," said Del. Bill Carrico (R-Grayson County), who attended the tobacco commission’s meeting in Richmond with representatives from Carroll, Grayson and BRCEDA. The grant “will greatly assist the region in creating long-term solutions for job growth and private investment that will bolster the local and regional economy.”
The Wildwood Commerce Park is part of a 1,400-acre tract. BRCEDA has optioned 167 acres of this tract, of which 50 acres have already been graded and provided with retention pond access.
This initiative is a collaborative effort involving Carroll County, Grayson County and the City of Galax, with BRCEDA serving in a management role.
The Mount Rogers Planning District Commission has provided planning and technical assistance.
The land is privately owned, and the owners have invested significant resources in the site in partnership with the localities involved. For the $3.8 million grant award, the private property owners are contributing additional cash and services valued at $675,000. The 167 acres has been optioned for $6.25 million and has been appraised at $6.4 million.
The purpose of the Wildwood Commerce Park is to attract well-paying, high-quality jobs in growing, next-level business sectors.
Wildwood funding was also discussed at the Feb. 14 meeting of Galax City Council.
Council members learned that Wildwood funding also has been sought from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Virginia Municipal League/Virginia Association of Counties Financing and Virginia Community Capital.
At this time, Virginia Community Capital appears to be the best choice. The current quoted rate is 5 percent at a 30-year term, which equates to approximately $120,000 per year per participating locality.
BRCEDA is also working to establish annual payments in lieu of monthly payments.
The City of Galax will hold a joint meeting with the boards of supervisors of Carroll County and Grayson County in March to have a more thorough discussion of the merits of the Wildwood project.
Following the grant approval, Del. Terry Kilgore, who chairs the Virginia Tobacco Commission, said that the “Localities in the megasite program will now need to step up to the plate to invest and create jobs for the region.”
BRCEDA was formed to provide the leadership for economic development efforts that would benefit the Twin County region. Over the last two years, BRCEDA has established the most successful Small Business Development Center in Virginia, leading to the creation of more than 116 new businesses.
Before the creation of a stand-alone Wired Road Broadband Authority, BRCEDA led the effort to create Virginia’s first community-owned, open access regional broadband network.
Most recently, BRCEDA has worked with the Town of Fries and Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to begin the implementation of the new Fries Master Plan.

A public information session on the Wildwood Commerce Park project is scheduled for March 1 at the Crossroads Institute at 5 p.m., with a formal presentation at 5:30 p.m. Click the link below for more information:

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Wildwood Public Meeting.pdf79.79 KB