Monday, October 28, 2013

Priming the pump

In the current fragile economy, competition to attract and retain businesses is fierce among jurisdictions. As revenue generated by real estate taxes shrinks in the face of growing demand for services, local governments are turning to incentive packages to bolster economic development efforts.

Goochland is still behind the curve on this one. Our neighbors to the east and northeast are able to offer those willing to set up shop inside their borders some tasty carrots that we can only dream about.
Instead of hand wringing, the county is working with the Economic Development Authority (EDA) to find ways to prime the economic development pump without breaking the bank.

The Goochland EDA discussed possible mechanisms to nurture expansion for companies already here and make an under-performing industrial park more attractive to newcomers on October 23. (Although it works closely with the county, under state law, the EDA is a separate entity.)

Matt Ryan, Goochland Director of Economic Development, explained that fees to connect to Tuckahoe Creek Service District water and sewer lines can cause businesses to leave Goochland for places free of these fees.

Waiving fees, even for one company, could set a dangerous and expensive precedent.

To that end, Ryan presented a draft of an expansion grant and loan application. While the terms
may seem strict, Ryan said, they are less stringent than those required by a bank.

Applicants must have an operating, duly licensed business in the TCSD. They must be free of tax liens and current on all tax obligations. Financial statements should indicate that the business is either currently profitable, or present a business plan that details expectations of future profitability. They must be 21 years old and either U. S. citizens or have long term alien residency status.

The EDA will determine the maximum amount of loans and grants. The draft proposed $10,000 for grants and $15,000 for loans.  Interest rates, expected to be lower than those offered by a bank and term of the loan, not to exceed five years, would be determined by the EDA. In the event of non-compliance with conditions, the loan would be called.

Fiscal and economic impact statements will also be required of applicants.
The EDA was instrumental in encouraging the Aw Shucks convenience store and car wash on Pouncey Tract Road in the northeastern corner of the county to extend TCSD water and sewer lines. Not only did this expedite the launch a new county business, but it also helped mitigate some stale water issues.
After years of heartburn, the roads in the Midpoint Industrial Park, located close to the Interstate 64 exit at Hadensville, may soon be paved and turned over to VDOT for maintenance.

These improvements will be funded using the proceeds from a road bond posted when the park was created more than 10 years ago and essentially lost in the financial meltdown shuffle for a few years. The EDA and county will split the difference between the actual paving cost and bond dollars.

Although its location, close to the interstate and almost exactly half way between Richmond and Charlottesville, seems ideal, Midpoint has languished.

Those involved—the EDA owns some lots—are hopeful that this step will renew interest in the park and generate some development there.
The EDA can be a great resource to help bring new business to Goochland and help those here prosper and expand. 

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