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EDA director says manufacturing plant still a possibility

By Joe Beck -- jbeck@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- The executive director of the Warren County-Front Royal Economic Development Authority isn't giving up on reviving plans for a new manufacturing plant at the former North American Housing site between Front Royal and Strasburg, despite an inability to obtain conventional financing.

Jennifer McDonald said Thursday the EDA is still working with TBI Investments, Inc. of Summersville, W.Va. and People, Inc. of Abingdon on finding a way to qualify the manufacturing plant for a federal tax credit program that could restore hope for opening the facility. People, Inc. is a community action agency with a mission that includes helping economic development in low income areas.

"The project is still viable, however they were unable to obtain conventional financing due to being a start-up business," McDonald said in an e-mail.

The planned site at 5210 Strasburg Road has remained closed and deserted since TBI president Lindsay W. Ray and McDonald said in December that hiring would begin soon. Ray and others said the plant would eventually employ up to 50 people at jobs averaging $42,000 a year.

A for sale sign appeared at the 17.26-acre parcel a few days ago after Ray signed a release allowing the property to be placed back on the market. The property is owned by Champion Homebuilders of Troy, Mich.

McDonald said TBI agreed to allow the property back on the market "to be fair" to Champion and "allow the property owner to continue marketing the property in case things fall through."

The project has stalled over eligibility requirements governing the federal government's New Market tax credit program. Bryan Phipps, vice president of development for People, said the proposed plant is located in a census tract that falls short on measures of poverty, unemployment rate, per capita income and other social and economic indicators that determine whether a project will receive the tax credits.

Phipps said the site technically qualifies for the program, but the data do not justify rating it as "highly distressed." As a result, he said, TBI's plant doesn't receive the same priority as other proposals for financial assistance that qualify as "highly distressed."

"It's very much a question of priorities," Phipps said.

Phipps said People, Inc. must reserve 75 to 100 percent of the tax credits it allocates to census tracts identified as "highly distressed."

He said People, Inc. has discussed a possible "mechanism" under which the Warren County plant site might be moved into the "highly distressed" category, but there has been little progress in the last two months.

"We talked with them earlier and gave them our parameters for our financing," Phipps said of TBI. "We haven't moved very far since then."


What would Mitt Romney do to help a small business like this one get started? Add another car elevator to his new house under construction?

Just when a true small business could use some help, where are the champions of small business helpers, Senate Majority Leader John Boehner (R) and House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) ?

Where are all our Supervisors and Councilors? What are they doing to help this company bring 50 jobs to our community?

Where are the local banks in our community that willingly solicit and conduct all this profitable loan business with Warren County's financing of various projects -- First Bank -- Wells Fargo -- B B & T -- United Bank -- ??

Where is our local Blue Ribbon Panel, the one all stocked up with a self-proclaimed financial guru whiz kid who said he had the expertise to solve Front Royals money problems? Whats his name, that Grand HooHah of smoke and mirror fame, Tederick? What is he doing? Sharpening a poison pen?

I see EDA Director Jennifer McDonald and Supervisor Tony Carter hanging around together everywhere all the time.... they must surely be in cahoots trying to get some business started???

Oh wait, they say this is not their kind of small business to do business with? I thought so. Are all these banks too busy foreclosing mortgages on widows and orphans?

Is the Blue Ribbon Panel all bark and no bite?

Is the EDA Board of Directors and all of our elected leaders actually powerless empty suits topped with talking heads?

What are Darr, Holloway, and Lauder doing to assist this company? Nothing.... except begging for your vote to re-elect their worthless Good Old Boy butts just so they can continue to NOT bring any more jobs into the community.

I'll put my money in Mason jars and bury them in my backyard before I do business with a bank again.... those money grubbing #$%^&*!!!!!

Don't get me started about Darr, Holloway, and Lauder.... you just know these grumpy old white guys are over the hill when the only thing they exercise is an abundance of caution to avoid the taste of shoe leather.

wooly should know that the fairhaired stupervisor and the esteemed former delegate are probably too lethargic from their days of smoke filled rooms on 11th street! Matt the rat is fevereshly working on his hit pieces for the Town elections to be concerned about anything posistive for the Cty. other than his nadir SOS Plans. Maybe they can all conspire and carve up another appt. to something for the Funk Boy when he comes in last...

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