SHELL: ‘I think that this is a good time to investigate this’

Published 12:53 pm Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Members of the Heartland Regional Industrial Facility Authority explored the possibility during a Jan. 23 meeting of forming a committee to fund and establish a shell building at the Heartland Industrial Park property.

Board member and Prince Edward County Administrator Wade Bartlett said the Heartland authority has a preexisting revenue sharing agreement within the authority that could be used when determining which county’s allocation could be used toward the shell building.

“I think it needs to be revised,” Bartlett said. “Because of the way it’s structured, there would be little to no incentive for any other county to participate besides Charlotte.”

Board member and Charlotte County Administrator R.B. Clark said Charlotte County and Lunenburg County would have the most to gain from the investment.

“Lunenburg and Charlotte are the major stockholders in this,” Clark said, noting that Charlotte and Lunenburg had placed the greatest amount of funds from grants into the Heartland in the past.

“I’m just going to be honest, this thing is contingent on these three counties,” Clark said, noting the potential participation of Prince Edward, Charlotte and Lunenburg counties in developing the shell building. “If we took Lunenburg’s allotment — I’m not even sure how much money we’re talking about — Charlotte took theirs and we offered to Prince Edward the opportunity to own a third share, but you would have to have some money — we put this thing up, and go with that.”

Authority Secretary and Lunenburg County Administrator Tracy Gee said she would notify other county leaders about plans relating to the shell building and determine their interest in the project.

Representatives from Amelia were present, but representatives from Cumberland and Buckingham counties were absent.

Heartland Authority Chairman and Charlotte County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gary Walker said for counties further away, it could be difficult for county administrators to argue for the project.

“I could see how it could be a hard sell for their board of supervisors and their citizens,” Walker said.

“It’s been a hard sell for mine and we’re right here, because of the money,” Gee said about Lunenburg’s proximity to the Heartland Park.

Bartlett noted the benefits to Prince Edward in establishing a shell building.

“We understand, and if there was (a shell building) here and they, say a company, hired 300 people, we understand a lot of those would be Prince Edward County residents,” Bartlett said.

“We also understand that a lot of the people who would be hired, even if they’re in Charlotte County or Lunenburg, they’re going to come to Prince Edward and Farmville and spend money, so we understand that that would be good for our economy,” Bartlett said.

Walker encouraged participants to discuss the potential allocations with their boards of supervisors and industrial development authorities.

Prince Edward County Buffalo District Supervisor C.R. “Bob” Timmons noted topics such as how funds for the building would be distributed and how the building would be marketed were those that needed to be further explored before the project is brought before the county’s board of supervisors.

“That’s the kind of exploration we need to do before we take it back to our board,” Timmons said, and he described the Prince Edward board’s approach to businesses. “Our board in the county is very business-friendly and borderline business-aggressive. If you come with an idea, we’ll figure out a way to make it happen … I think that this is a good time to investigate this.”

The authority’s next scheduled