Wildwood grant could help land major business

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Tobacco Commission considers giving $6 million to help bring in a prospect

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

RICHMOND — A grant of $6 million has been recommended for the Wildwood Commerce Park initiative in Carroll County, if the funds can help the Twin County region land a major business prospect.
No details are available about the prospect, but Virginia Tobacco Commission staff accelerated a recommendation on a mega-site grant proposal in order to "meet an active prospect's site selection timeline," according to a special projects report.
Staff noted that the tobacco commission has already awarded $5.4 million to the Wildwood effort for property acquisition, utilities and engineering at the business park being developed off of Interstate 77's Exit 19.
The new funding request would be used "to purchase 106 acres and to extend natural gas for Wildwood Commerce Park."
The entire project has been estimated at $7.046 million, with more than $1 million in a local funding match, according to tobacco commission documents.
"This project will allow [Blue Ridge Crossroads Economic Development Authority] to competitively respond to an active prospect with stated job creation of 450 jobs and $100,000,000 in private investment," according to information that the tobacco commission has.
The unnamed prospect needs a total of 150 acres, staff noted. The 106 acres would be added to a pad that's already been graded to make up the parcel the prospect would need.
“The proposed job creation (450 in phase 1 and a potential additional 150 jobs in a second phase that is not guaranteed at this time) clearly meets every definition of a mega-project, would involve revenue-sharing on a major private capital investment by the localities that are partners in BRCEDA (Carroll, Galax and Grayson), and would be a transformational project for the region," the tobacco commission staff said.
Costs to extend the natural gas line to the commerce park total $1.3 million, the document says. Carroll County would pay for much of that work.
The normal cycle for mega-site industrial park funding has an application deadline of Oct. 31, with funding decisions to be made in January, the document notes.
That's "well after this prospect's stated timeline for selecting a site by mid-October."
"In the event Wildwood is not selected the proposal can be withdrawn and replaced with a revised request in the scheduled mega-site program cycle," the recommendations report said.
"Staff recommends award of $6 million from the [fiscal year 2013] mega-site budget, contingent on this prospect committing to the Wildwood site.”