EDA officially agrees to local match for male fertility jobs

Update on Lewis and Clark loan 

The Albemarle Economic Development Authority has formally approved an agreement to make a local match for a state grant that will pay an Albemarle County start-up firm for each new job it creates.

PS-Fertility is investing $1.4 million to fit out a 4,000 square foot site at the new Albemarle Business Campus for its purposes. 

“It’s going to be a diagnostic testing company for male fertility,” said Kevin Combs, CEO of PS-Fertility. “There are going to be two Ph.D. doctors out of the University of Virginia that discovered some new fertility science around male sperm.”

There are two different tests the company will begin processing at the new facility which has high-tech lab space that will be of use. 

“I was really happy to be able to keep this company in our geographic county here,” Combs said. “I’ve lived here. I’ve raised my four children who attended the county schools. My daughter teaches in the county schools.” 

Under the terms of the Virginia Jobs Investment Program grant, PS-Fertility will get $1,600 for each new job created. He said this is valuable because it will incentivize hiring. 

“We are going to want to add lab personnel,” Combs said. “The University of Virginia is a very fertile ground for students coming out that would have the skill sets we need.” 

The EDA’s funding for this project comes from a transfer from the county’s Economic Opportunity Fund. The Board of Supervisors created the fund in December 2006, as reported by Charlottesville Tomorrow 

Last week, the EDA also got an update on a recent award of $24,000 to Kelly Turkeys by Governor Glenn Youngkin from the Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Grant Program. (read the story)

J.T. Newberry, principal business development manager for Albemarle County, said there may be more applicants for the next cycle. 

“We’ve had many other companies in the community reach out for the next round and so there will be likely a competitive process that we will come back to the EDA,” Newberry said. 

The EDA also learned more about the recent award of $3 million to Albemarle County from the Virginia Business Site Ready Program for the North Fork Discovery Park. The county’s Economic Development office worked on the project for two years according to Director Roger Johnson. 

“That process had us working directly with the [University of Virginia] Foundation to get them to change their stance on lease-only options,” Johnson said.

Newberry said the $3 million will cover pre-development work as well as clearing and grading of the 31-acre site within the larger North Fork Discovery Park. 

“As those companies explore interest in this area and we go and do a site visit with them they’ll be able to visualize what their new home could look like,” Newberry said. 

Newberry said the request was higher than what was awarded, but he is hopeful for future investment from the Commonwealth of Virginia. 

Senator Creigh Deeds has filed legislation to allow for the Virginia Business Site Ready Program to be able to consider properties below 100 acres in size for the program. That was one of the top legislative requests of the Board of Supervisors. SB1308 is waiting for a vote in the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee

This is what most bills look like. Existing state code is marked up with additions and strike-throughs. Follow the progress of SB1308 on the Virginia Legislative Information System.

Progress being made towards resolving Lewis and Clark loan 

The economic development authorities in both Albemarle and Charlottesville are both owed money by the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center for $260,000 in loans granted in 2013 to help cover unforeseen construction costs. 

The center has asked for forgiveness, but the Albemarle EDA has remained committed to getting repaid. Negotiations are underway for a way forward. EDA Chair Donald Long said progress has been made but there was no resolution as of their January 17 meeting. 

“We’ve got a little bit more work to do but they’ve been very cooperative and have made a $5,000 payment on the loan which shows that they are serious about getting this done,” Long said. 

Long said there might be more information next year. 

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 January 24, 2023 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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