The Albemarle Economic Development Authority administers grant and bond programs that seek to encourage businesses to expand in Albemarle or to locate their operations there. On October 19, 2021, the seven-member EDA Board of Directors formally authorized their role in a performance agreement for the firm Bonumose to open a demonstration facility in the former State Farm Building. That came at a joint meeting with the six elected members of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors.
Doug Walker is the Deputy County Executive.
“These two bodies work in collaboration with each other,” Walker said. “They are considering the same projects, the same agreements, and they do them in concert with each other.”
(This article originally appeared in the October 26, 2021 edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement. Please consider a contribution through Patreon to help sustain this work!)
Many of these discussions are held in closed session, as a provision in Virginia’s open meeting rules allows for the public to be excluded from conversations where “Discussion concerning a prospective business or industry or the expansion of an existing business or industry where no previous announcement has been made of the business’ or industry’s interest in locating or expanding its facilities in the community.” (Virginia code)
These packages are often given code names and Walker said the following represent exceed $136 million in private investment which then enters the local economy.
“Turtle. Daffodil. Macintosh. Proton. Patriot. Bronco. 49ers,” Walker said. “Those projects are actually Woolen Mills, WillowTree, Potter’s Craft Cider. Afton Scientific. Barnes’ Lumber. Castle Hill Gaming. Albemarle Business Campus.”
Walker said those projects have resulted in nearly 600 new jobs in Albemarle. Another key performance agreement is one with Habitat for Humanity for the provision of affordable housing units at Southwood, as well as one with Pinnacle Construction for the Brookdale apartment complex off of Old Lynchburg Road.
“And then there are other active pending projects that we can’t talk about by name but we can talk about by code,” Walker said. “Project Gadget, Project Puma, Project Baja, just illustrating that the work continues.”
The EDA also works to help build infrastructure to help industrial sites more accessible and attractive. The University of Virginia Foundation’s North Fork Research Park is considered a Tier 4 site by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership. Recently the Foundation paid to extend Lewis and Clark Drive to Airport Road in order to provide an additional entrance. (go look!)
“It’s the county’s only tier 4 site so the Foundation provided more than $6 million toward that infrastructure improvement,” said J.T. Newberry in the Economic Development Office.
Newberry said the economic development office is working with the Foundation to elevate the North Fork park to a Tier 5 site. He also said the firm Kimley-Horn will provide a long-awaited study for the county as part of the Comprehensive Plan update.
“A long desired piece of information for us is an inventory of our commercial and industrial properties,” Newberry said.
Watch the rest of the video to see the whole presentation on the Board of Supervisors’ website. (watch)