Grant awarded to town to assess site business readiness

Gov. Terry McAuliffe has awarded a $5,000 Virginia Business Ready Site Program grant to the town of Mount Jackson as a part of the program’s first round of grant distributions, according to a release from McAuliffe’s office.

The idea, according to John Loftus, sites and buildings manager for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, is to evaluate larger sites on a tier system, one through five, to be able to better market the sites to potential buyers and businesses. Tier one is the least business ready; tier five is most business ready.

“Basically what this program is, typically a civil engineer assesses the site to determine what engineering has already been conducted on the site and what type of infrastructure is at the site,” Loftus said. “It’s basically just to do an assessment of what has currently been done for the property.”

Mount Jackson will use the funds to assess the 136-acre plot adjacent to Turkey Knob Road, which leads to a proposed mega site.

He also said that sites assessed as business ready are understandably more attractive to potential buyers.

“Most companies that have large projects that are looking to open a new facility don’t want to look at any sites that aren’t a tier four or tier five and ready to go,” he said.

Jay Langston, senior business manager for competitive initiatives with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, said that the tier classification “removes a lot of the risk from a business perspective on making a decision.”

Both Loftus and Langston said that the state’s inventory of business-ready sites larger than 100 acres is low. The idea behind the grant is to increase that inventory.

“This program helps us understand what kind of inventory we have on sites that are ready to go,” Loftus said.

Grant recipients have 90 days to complete the assessments or will have to return the money.

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com.