County supervisors agreed to allocate $150,000 to the Economic Development Authority’s business incentive program at their meeting Wednesday.
The program, which has been operating for about 10 years, has used grant money as a lure to encourage businesses to set up shop in the county. The program has paid out $231,571 in grants to about 20 businesses over its existence. While four grant-recipient businesses have closed or moved, most businesses have continued to be successful and have invested about $10.4 million in the county, Community Development Director Matt Smolnik said.
"The program has been successful,” Smolnik said. “It's provided a good investment for the county."
But success has chipped away at the program’s coffers. The program has essentially run out of money, with just about $3,000 left in its balance. A booster shot of funding is necessary to keep the program operational, Smolnik said.
The program pays out money to new businesses or existing businesses that desire to expand their operations within the county. Grant funding, which has ranged up to $45,000, is based on the business’s projected tax generation and is paid out over three years, Smolnik said.
Incentive programs are common in other localities and the EDA’s program keeps New Kent competitive in attracting business, EDA Chairman William O’Keefe said.
Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution to allocate the funds, though they suggested the EDA explore ways to make the program self-sustaining.
Just how the program will become self-sustaining is unknown at this time but something officials will consider. One potential ways for the program to make money is to steer some percentage of business license fees into its fund balance, Smolnik said.
Smolnik hopes to have a proposal to make the program self-sustaining sometime in the next several months.
In other news
Supervisors voted to instruct staff to publish a request for proposals regarding the county’s $2.2 million project to build a new fire station at 7324 Vineyards Parkway.
The request for proposals lays out the project’s approved budget and objectives to encourage contractors to step forward with a plan to build the station, County Administrator Rodney Hathaway said.
The request will be published early October and will accept proposals for 45 days. County officials expect to begin actual construction of the facility this spring, Hathaway said.
The move comes after a previous request for proposals yielded just one proposal about five months ago.
“We want more competition,” Hathaway said.
The county hopes to get more proposals this time around with a request featuring a more defined vision of the project, such more details on square footage and layout of the station, which is planned to be 9,600 square feet and include three bays, Hathaway said.
Jacobs can be reached by phone at 757-298-6007.