- Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 June 2011 00:08
- Published on Wednesday, 01 June 2011 00:08
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Westmoreland County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) members Jim Latane, Bob Lynch, Steve Allen, Stanley Dixon and Rebecca Gillions met last Wednesday afternoon and accepted a sales agreement with O’Gara group that will expire on August 31, 2011.
The agreement is essentially the same as the sales contract approved by Westmoreland’s IDA in January, March and June 2009. O’Gara now has until August 31 to buy the county’s industrial shell building and surrounding 25 acres of industrial park property. The land is contiguous with 325 acres O’Gara Group previously bought from Bryan
The previously purchased properties have become home to an O’Gara Group security training facility whose shooting range practices have been a subject of criticism since training began earlier this year. O’Gara spokesperson Jim Noe has publicly expressed willingness to continue working with the county’s Land Use Office to mitigate those unwanted impacts.
The new sales agreement states that the “purchaser may use this purchase to consummate a 1031 tax deferred exchange.” In addition to properties acquired from Chandler and the county’s industrial park shell building and surrounding 25 acres, O’Gara Group has a contract to buy the former Scovill/Arrowhead manufacturing plant. All O’Gara Group real estate holdings will be contiguous and the establishment’s night vision and armor plating enterprises may relocate to Westmoreland at a later date.
The May 25, 2011 contract lists the shell building and surrounding property’s purchase price as $679,178, with $33,959 of that amount deposited with the county in advance of the stated August 31 closing date. As previously occurred, the deposit will be returned if the sale does not go through.
In addition to approving the sales agreement, the Authority voted to return Jim Latane as Chairman of the Westmoreland County IDA. The June 29, 2009 meeting minutes were additionally approved.
The sale of the industrial shell building and surrounding property will mark completion of the industrial park portion of the local government’s economic development initiative. During last week’s IDA meeting, County Administrator Norm Risavi spoke about the county’s next phase of economic development activity.
Approximately 15 years ago the county purchased its Westmoreland Industrial Park tract from Bryan Chandler. The location was considered optimal due to its proximity to State Route 3. Situated a short distance east of Montross, the availability of public water and sewer facilities were perceived as a crucially important accommodation for marketing purposes.
The one-size-fits-all approach associated with creation of the industrial park and its shell building anchor was not as attractive to prospective industries as had been initially supposed. When the shell building and the park’s last 25 acres are sold to O’Gara, the county will be holding over $1,000,000 in profits.
Grants supported portions of the cost associated with the industrial park’s development. As a result, the million dollars-plus must be used to subsidize other economic development initiatives.
From the beginning it was understood that the county would launch a second industrial park project when the first project was completed, but Risavi made it known last Wednesday that a second such project isn’t in the works.
With help from Assistant County Administrator Karen Lewis, Risavi advised the Authority of the next direction the county will pursue as its central economic development initiative. The Authority was introduced to the concept of economic gardening.
“We can work with existing businesses in the community and with small entrepreneurs,” Risavi began.
“One county in Virginia [that took the economic gardening approach] has created quite a few jobs.
“It can be very difficult to lure large businesses and industries to Westmoreland County. We’re quite a distance off the interstate.
“Other states with significant rural areas have adopted the [economic gardening] process.”
The county administrator suggested that the Authority conduct a workshop and also visit the Virginia jurisdiction where economic gardening is already being used to facilitate economic development. He touted the proposed strategy as a mechanism that would allow established enterprises to expand the size of their workforce while facilitating creation of new business and industrial establishments.
“It never hurts to have a bunch of small businesses with eight or ten people,” Risavi commented.
“I think we’d be eligible for a grant from the Economic Development Administration that would help us get this started.”
According to Risavi, the proposed initiative would “help existing businesses and encourage new businesses. The county’s designated Enterprise Zone would be part of the suggested mix that would utilize computer-based marketing strategies.
“This county has a lot of retirees who still dabble in their working occupations,” Risavi told the members of the IDA.
“Some of these retirees could mentor younger folks. We could use the funds we have for job creation projects.”
Risavi and Lewis will collect a set of reference materials for distribution to the county’s IDA. As the May 25 discussion concluded, Latane encouraged Authority members to immediately begin web-based research of their own. He thanked Risavi and Lewis for sharing the information about economic gardening jobs creation strategies and then adjourned the meeting.