Albemarle EDA briefed on 2022 plans, Lewis and Clark Loan
There will be no change in leadership on Albemarle’s Economic Development Authority. Donald Long will remain the chair, George Ray will stay the vice chair, and David Shreve gets to keep being treasurer.
The group met virtually yesterday and heard from Economic Development Director Roger Johnson about what his office will be up to this year. In the first part of the year, COVID remains a threat to business as usual and Johnson said help will be available from economic development.
“We would expect there would continue to be COVID prophylactics, particularly when you think about some of the things that we have done historically,” Johnson said. “It includes things like the LIFT grant, microloan programs, Safe Places and Safe Spaces.”
Previous funding has come through the federal CARES Act of 2020. To see how that money’s been used to date, visit enablealbemarle.org.
Johnson said this year the EDA’s Board of Commissioners will review a new grant program in Albemarle to encourage the reuse of historic buildings. He also said the EDA may be looking to purchase land.
“There are many ways that the Economic Development Authority can promote economic development through land ownership so we may be coming back to this particular board to talk about ways in land ownership or site control which may advance the county’s mission to accomplish a sustainable economy,” Johnson said.
The EDA was also given an update on an outstanding loan granted to the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center. Nine years ago, the nonprofit borrowed $260,000 from the economic development authorities of both Albemarle and Charlottesville to cover the unanticipated cost of drilling rock as the center was being at Darden-Towe Park. Richard DeLoria is a senior assistant county attorney.
“The loan originated in 2013 and there have been two amendments to the loan and the second one extends the performance date to June 30, 2018,” Deloria said.
To date, the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center has not made a payment and has been seeking to forgive the loan. City Council voted in November 2015 to do so, but only if Albemarle followed suit. The Board of Supervisors opted to not grant forgiveness two years later and the matter remains unresolved.
“The primary purpose is to make you aware that this authority needs to take action between now and June 30, 2023 or lose legal standing,” Johnson said.
Donald Long said a decision on forgiveness is not up to the EDA.
“The Board of Supervisors provided the money to us to turn around and make the loan so ultimately it is the Board of Supervisors’ decision about whether they want to forgive it,” Long said. “We obviously may have the legal authority if we chose to do that but I think the Board appropriated the money for that purpose so my view is that our obligation is to continue to collect or take reasonable efforts to do it unless we’re given direction by the Board of Supervisors to forgive it.”
Long suggested convening a group to work with the Center to work out a payment arrangement.
“We need to take some steps to figure out what’s going on and try to at least come up with a plan to move forward,” Long said.
The Center has been paying the interest on the loan. Johnson said he would reach out to the Center.
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