Shenandoah County supervisors approved a performance agreement with International Automotive Components (IAC) Group’s Strasburg facility regarding industrial expansion on Tuesday evening, a move that County Administrator Evan Vass said “memorializes” a prior commitment supervisors had made to the company.
The county worked with the state and IAC LLC on an expansion of the company’s local facility, and last month Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced IAC would invest $4.6 million to expand its manufacturing operation in Strasburg. The expansion, which Vass noted on Tuesday is underway, includes the creation of 47 new jobs at the facility that is located at 806 E. King St.
The performance agreement specifies that the county will provide the company with $99,999 over a three-year period, to be paid in increments of $33,333 “on or around” June 30 in 2021, 2022 and 2023. The agreement states that each grant payment shall be “expressly contingent and subject to” the collection of additional tax revenue by the county in an amount “equal to or greater than” the grant as a result of IAC’s capital investment, and to an annual appropriation by the Board of Supervisors.
According to documents included in the board’s meeting agenda, the additional revenues generated from the company’s capital investment will offset the incentive program.
The performance agreement states that the county and its Industrial Development Authority “strongly encourage” IAC to “ensure that at least 15” of the new jobs generated by the expansion are offered to Virginia residents.
“It’s awesome on a run by the plant in the morning and seeing the parking lot with vehicles in it, people working, coming and going,” said Supervisor Tim Taylor, the District 6 representative, before the board’s unanimous vote. “I appreciate (Director of Tourism and Economic Development Jenna French) and her department’s and all the staff’s work in making this happen. This is one of those bright spots during a very challenging year when it comes down to jobs, economic development. This is a great success story.”
In other action on Tuesday, supervisors passed an amendment to a resolution concerning a state-run municipal utility relief program that uses CARES Act money to allow towns to recover revenue lost from unpaid utility bills. The amendment extends the deadline for participating towns to file receipts of reimbursement to the county to Feb. 1.
The county, which is acting as the fiscal agent between its towns and the state in the program, was previously required to file receipts of reimbursement to the state by Jan. 29 and had given its participating towns a Jan. 18 deadline. Vass noted on Tuesday the state has since expanded its deadline to Dec. 31.
Though the municipal utility relief program was available to all six of Shenandoah County’s towns, only New Market, Strasburg and Woodstock applied for the program, which requires an extensive application process in which residents with unpaid utility bills must prove the delinquent payments are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vass told supervisors that Strasburg had recently requested an extension to the original Jan. 18 deadline and stated that the new Feb. 1 deadline should provide ample time for the three participating towns to file their receipts of reimbursement. The new deadline applies only to those three participating towns.
Also on Tuesday, supervisors voted unanimously to approve:
• A resolution meant to educate county residents and the local medical community about the risks of traveling to China for an organ transplant “in light of recent reports of state-sponsored organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience.” The resolution states that its intent is to “help prevent people from unwittingly becoming accomplices” in such practices.
• A zoning text amendment ordinance pertaining to large- and small-scale solar facilities.
• The tabling of a zoning text amendment ordinance related to short-term rentals, home shares and other transient rental units to allow county staff to clarify language in the amendment.
• Board member committee assignments.
At the end of Tuesday’s open session, a few supervisors commented on the recent passing of former Planning Commission member Kathleen Curtis, who was the committee’s District 3 representative. Supervisor Karl Roulston (District 4) called Curtis a “good soul” who was “very engaged, very intelligent, very well-prepared.”
“She knew what civic duty was and she’d step up and do it,” Roulston said. “Frankly, my heart goes out to Dr. Curtis and the family. It really just brought me great sorrow.”
District 3 Supervisor Brad Pollack followed by stating he wanted to echo Roulston’s “kind and compassionate and accurate comments,” and Josh Stephens, the new District 1 interim supervisor, said it was a “pleasure” previously working with Curtis on the Planning Commission and added that his former colleague was “very well-respected, always professional and tactful in the way she presented herself and her comments.”