Heartland park needs a spark

Published 10:01 am Friday, October 28, 2016

Today’s look at Virginia’s Heartland Regional Industrial Park likely left more questions than answers. Our primary question was — and remains — should its member counties, including Lunenburg, stick with the program?

It’s a program that has cost state taxpayers million of dollars in grant funds stretching back 16 years with little to show for it. Prince Edward County Administrator Wade Bartlett suggests it, like the county’s business park there, needs more time to reach its full potential.

Perhaps, but in that case, it needs one heck of a spark to start the fire. For several years, the park has been home to Virginia’s Growth Alliance, which, along with dozens of other sites, is supposed to be marketing Heartland to potential investors. So far, according to R.B. Clark, the administrator for Charlotte County, where the park is located, only two companies — neither of them truly industrial in nature — have plans to move there.

One would think we would be marketing the park to industrial concerns. Then again, is that realistic? America — and the Heart of Virginia — in 2016 is very different than the mid- to late-20th century, which saw the height of American industrial might.

Perhaps, as part of Virginia’s Gigapark network, Heartland should be renamed and remarketed to Information Age companies.

In any case, something needs to happen and it needs to sooner than later — 16 years is too long — or the authority needs to recognize it’s time to move on.