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Posted February 26, 2013 | comments Leave a comment

Potential partner has ties to council

Former councilman, ex-town manager work for firm that may help develop business plan for Front Royal

By Sally Voth

Front Royal Town Councilman Bret Hrbek is encouraging the council to collaborate with McLean firm Kratos Infrastructure to strategically develop a business plan for the town.

Several key players in the Kratos organization have ties to the Town Council.

Former Councilman Tom Conkey and former town manager Michael Graham are both listed on the firm's website, kratosinfra.com, as being part of the leadership.

The Town Council fired Graham in September 2010. Conkey was one of two council members to vote against the firing.

Hrbek acknowledged Graham has some "baggage."

"But, there's also some great things that he's done and can do, and he has a lot of gifts that he can provide to the community," he added.

Another man listed on the site, William Lauterbach, was involved in the proposed solar farm project by SolAVerde.

Hrbek provided a copy of the statement he made at Monday's Town Council meeting. According to the statement, Kratos has been meeting with the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority as well as the council about developing "a plan to redevelopment [sic] and rejuvenate the economic base of the community."

The outcome would be a long-term vision and business plan that would be independent of state subsidies, rebuild local infrastructure and bring good jobs to the area, according to Hrbek's statement.

"This would be based on the creation of a Front Royal Redevelopment Authority and using Private/Public Partnerships without placing the burden of cost on the backs of our citizens and would create new revenue sources for the town," it states.

On Tuesday, Hrbek said he has asked for a resolution that would have the town develop a non-binding letter of intent with Kratos Infrastructure go on the March 11 agenda.

"You would be asking them to come in and help build new facilities," Hrbek said.

Kratos Infrastructure would help the town identify what was needed, what was desired, and where it would go, help buy property, and select and recruit anchor businesses, he said.

"We're talking about retail, hotel, tourist type of things, not really industrial park," Hrbek said. "Definitely retail, hotel type of establishments."

A wellness center is also part of the plan, as is attracting "living wage jobs, and high-paying jobs, six-figure salaries in [the] outreach and development-type environment."

Hrbek said he'd like to see the town retain some of the visitors who come in to enjoy its natural resources and also "figure [a] way to create employment that would attract professionals, would attract high-paying jobs."

According to its website, Kratos Infrastructure "builds an urban lifestyle in balance with the ecosystem that sustains life responsibly, organically and economically without sacrificing convenience."

It states the firm develops mixed-use urban projects, and "facilitates capital investment for project completion utilizing financial solutions that mitigate risk."

The sites states Kratos uses renewal technology, is energy-efficient, and attracts private capital to develop infrastructure, while increasing tax revenue and jobs.

Hrbek stressed Kratos wouldn't be hired as consultants.

"We're asking them to be a strategic partner, and that's a big difference," he said.

Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or svoth@nvdaily.com

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