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Wildwood could get $962K utilities grant

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Improved sewer system would make commerce park more attractive to food processing companies

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

RICHMOND — Virginia Tobacco Commission staff has recommended granting $962,500 to pay for the first phase of a sewer expansion to make the Wildwood Commerce Park more attractive as a potential site for food processing.
The tobacco commission received five proposals requesting $20.7 million under its “megasite” industrial park grants, with $12.7 million of assistance funds budgeted, according to information from the state agency. This made the selection process very competitive.

The special projects committee met in Danville Nov. 25 to consider the recommendations.
The final decision will be made by the full tobacco commission Jan. 7.
The Blue Ridge Crossroads Economic Development Authority requested more than $3.8 million, with the eventual goal of increasing wastewater treatment capacity to 550,000 gallons per day, up from the current 114,000, according to the Virginia Tobacco Commission.
“BRCEDA has identified food product processing as a suitable industry for Wildwood, which typically requires a minimum 500,000 gallons per day of sanitary sewer capacity,” the information said.
Economic developers arrived at this figure after talking with site selection consultants who have visited Wildwood.
Commission officials note their agency has supplied $11.4 million to buy and develop 270 acres, of which 118 have been graded into “pads,” at the commerce park at Interstate 77’s Exit 19 in Carroll County.
“Wildwood currently has an available water capacity of 1.3 million gallons per day, but an existing sanitary sewer capacity of 114,000 gallon per day,” according to the tobacco commission application. “Increasing the sewer capacity to 550,000 gallons per day will better position Wildwood for food processing company projects.”
The addition of this increased capacity — along with the water, fiber and natural gas service — will better position the commerce park “to create a significant amount of jobs and private investment.”
Reaching the 550,000-gallon goal would be done in two rounds, BRCEDA officials told the commission. The first phase would increase capacity to 300,000 gallons per day at a cost of $962,500 for engineering and construction.
Local economic developers also proposed that the annual debt service on a $5.3 million loan to acquire land in 2011 would serve as the required local match of $594,280.
“This request, particularly if phased, appears appropriate to make the site ready for the targeted industries (food processing, etc.) being recruited to the site by Virginia Economic Development Partnership, aCorridor and BRCEDA,” according to the commission document. “Staff recommends award of $962,500.”