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Recruiting for park ongoing
Friday, March 15, 2013
From Bulletin staff reports
Henry County and economic development officials are working to recruit companies to locate in the Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre, which should help win approval of a grading permit for the site from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to Henry County Administrator Tim Hall.
But so far, officials have been unable to find a company that fits the requirements of locating in the park and/or is willing to commit to doing so, in part due to the stalemate, Hall said.
The county has applied for a permit to grade a 200-acre pad in the business park.
But the corps, acting on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has refused to issue the permit because it considers development of the park to be speculative since no business or industry has committed to locating there, officials have said.
“The corps so far has been pretty adamant in its position” that an “identifiable end user, a prospect by name” must be committed to Commonwealth Crossing before the corps will issue the grading permit, Hall said.
However, companies “are not inclined to let their name out” when locating to another area “unless they are signing a deal,” he said.
The county and the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. (EDC) are “working to give the corps an end user that we think would meet our needs and also meet their needs,” Hall said. “There’s a unique set of circumstances here that we relay to prospects to see if they willing to make” a deal with the county.
A majority of prospects have talked to EDC President/CEO Mark Heath, Hall said.
“But since we have been marketing the site, and since we have had these issues with the corps, we’ve probably talked to 10” prospects about committing to locate in the park, Hall said.
There are many facets to those discussions, he said.
For instance, the project must be a good fit for the industrial park, must need a 200-acre site with rail service, meet a minimum capital invest of $250 million and minimum job creation of 400 jobs, Hall said.
Officials identify companies with “viable projects that meet that criteria, and then we try to create a relationship with them” and eventually share “the issue about the corps,” Hall said.
Meanwhile, county staff members also “are meeting internally to try to formulate” a plan to get the process moving forward with the corps, he said.