Heartland building considered

Published 10:27 am Wednesday, November 1, 2017

County leaders across the Heart of Virginia continued discussion on generating economic growth, creating greater internet access and developing increased educational opportunities during the Virginia’s Heartland Regional Industrial Facility Authority meeting Tuesday.

Gary Walker

Buffalo District Representative C.R. “Bob” Timmons Jr., a member of the Region 3 GO Virginia  board, said the second round of accepting applications is underway through Nov. 6, and the next board meeting will take place in November.

“It’s moving,” Timmons said. “And the second round is due, those applications need to be — get to submitting those in quickly.”

The discussion for proposals that could generate growth included supporting aims for increasing internet connection, growing educational opportunities for advanced certifications for mechanical engineering and technologies, and providing a building to which large companies could relocate.

“If we want to attract industry to the Heartland, to Amelia or to Lunenburg … they’re not looking for empty fields anymore,” said Gary Walker, regional chair and chair of the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors. “They want some product. They want some property to buy.”

Charlotte County Administrator Russell B. Clark noted that the Heartland Industrial Park could be a potential location to market to businesses, but said workforce training for the public would be essential and said certain necessities are longer distances away.

“We’ve got a million dollar building, a parking lot and we’ve got no latency and enough internet service on the other side of that wall to run anything,” Clark said. “It’s a direct pipe all over the world. So what is it that we don’t have other than a hospital? We don’t have anybody here that could go to work tomorrow.”

Walker encouraged partnerships between counties for initiatives, particularly in reference to the GO Virginia program, which requires partnerships between counties.

“There’s real money that’s targeted for us,” Walker said in reference to potential businesses. “But we’ve got to figure out how we can take advantage of it, and I’m not sure that … Charlotte County can do it by themselves. But if somebody else wanted to get in, we could certainly have a discussion.”

Timmons also noted the necessity of workforce training, particularly providing opportunities for advanced certifications in profitable industries.

“We can have all of the buildings we want. But if we don’t have a workforce, they are just going to be empty buildings,” Timmons said. “Along with having product, if we have the certification in our area … I think that would go a long way.”

Walker encouraged county leaders to discuss and potentially make a decision to partner with different localities for economic growth with their boards of supervisors during their November meetings.

The next Heartland Regional Authority meeting will take place Jan. 23, 2018.