Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center officials met in closed session with EDA to talk loan forgiveness

The Albemarle Economic Development Authority met with leaders of the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center in closed session last week to share information about the nonprofit’s ability to pay back a loan that dates back to 2013. 

“The pandemic of course dealt us a hefty blow as I think it did most nonprofits,” said Malou Stark, the president of the center’s Board of Directors. “We were not able to open during most of the pandemic. We began very small last fall with very private small group tours of two or three people at a time.”

That’s important as the Center owes just over $125,000 to the EDA for the loan, which was taken out to cover higher-than-expected construction costs to build the Center in Darden Towe Park. The Charlottesville Economic Development Authority also contributed $130,000 for that purpose, and has said it will forgive the loan if the Albemarle EDA follows suit. 

However, they have consistently indicated they expect repayment. 

Stark and fellow board member Sarah Gran met with economic development staff before the meeting to speak privately about the issue. 

“We took away the thoughts and ideas that were addressed a week ago and really wanted to hear what the EDA was saying about repayment about this loan and that we take it seriously,” Gran said. 

The EDA told the center board members that they want a plan for repayment. Stark said the Center sees an ability to bring in more revenue now that it can open. 

“We’ve continued renting out our building and we have been very successful during the pandemic in getting grants that we have gone after,” Stark said 

Stark said the Center will resume holding its summer camp this year and that will be one source of revenue. However, schools are not yet booking the property for field trips. 

The EDA met with Stark and Gran to discuss the matter in closed session. At the closed session, they also discussed an economic development project with the codename Khaki. 

There was no action on the matter after the closed session. There will be more from the Albemarle Economic Development Authority later on in this newsletter. Watch the whole thing on the county’s YouTube page. 

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the March 22, 2022 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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