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Potential C-CARE operators line up for job

Halifax County Industrial Development Authority Executive Director Matt Leonard told authority board members he was pleased with the “significant response” to the recent request for proposal to attract a National Center for Coatings Application Research and Education (C-CARE) operator.

During the authority’s Friday morning meeting at Riverstone, Leonard and Dr. Doug Corrigan, executive director of the IDA’s Riverstone Energy Center, updated directors on the “high-caliber, well-known mix of universities, trade organizations and industries” represented at the Dec.6 pre-proposal meeting.

 A total of 20 different coatings industry businesses, professional associations and workforce training and education organizations attended the meeting, Leonard said, and others have said they want to visit in January. 

Responses to the C-CARE RFP are due Jan. 17. 

C-CARE is part of Halifax’s economic development tool-kit that aims to provide assets and programs to support and attract industries that require advanced manufacturing technology and skill sets.  

The authority issued the C-CARE RFP to attract an operator, or team of operators, for C-CARE who can meet critical economic development goals.

Those attending the Dec. 6 meeting had an opportunity to see the entire county, Leonard said. 

Attendees were given an overview of the RFP and then toured Riverstone Energy Center, C-CARE, and the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center’s Innovation Center.     

“C-CARE is a world-class facility in Halifax,” he said.  “We need world-class operators to make the most of it.  This RFP process is our way of finding them.”  

The mission of C-CARE is to assist manufacturers with their process engineering, research and development, and work-force training needs in the application of coatings to their final products.  

The C-CARE lab in Riverstone Technology Park has been recognized by industry as a one-of-a-kind facility and rounds out Halifax’s capability in aiding manufacturers in all cycles of product development, including modeling and simulation, design, engineering and prototyping.  

“We were well pleased with the turnout of various industries and stakeholders along the coatings and advanced manufacturing spectrum,” added Corrigan. “The quality and reputation of these organizations underscores our ongoing vision of creating a world-class and one-of-a-kind program for an unmet need in the industry.”

After the Jan. 17 application deadline, Leonard said the applicants will be vetted, and he hopes “to have something to present to the full board” at its February meeting.

Board member Ted Bennett commended Leonard and Corrigan on having done “an excellent job of getting the RFP out in a very professional way.”

He said they had found every avenue to market this RFP, and the responses received “have been quite good.”

During the Dec. 6 meeting, Bennett said prospective operators seemed “very impressed.

“What they saw here generated serious discussions about that (coatings) industry. They all would like to take part in this,” he concluded.

In other business Friday morning, Properties and Prospect Committee Chairman Chris Lumsden said authority members had an opportunity to view and discuss “a list of key prospects” during a closed session held earlier Friday morning.

“Hopefully 2014 will be a good year for us attracting an industry to the county,” Lumsden said.

Also discussed was ongoing construction and renovations at Green View Advanced Manufacturing Center, the former Daystrom Furniture facility.

According to Lumsden, bids came in “substantially higher than anticipated” for the Phase II rehab, so any action on the rehab has been postponed until authority staff talks with potential prospects for the building to see if they have any specific needs to be addressed in the renovations.

Authority board members are expecting an award of a $1.4 million tobacco commission grant for Phase III in January.

Leonard said Friday, “I don’t see any reason why we won’t get it in January.” 

If awarded as anticipated, Phase III funding will cover the costs of improvements to on-site utilities, exterior and entrance and access improvements to the Green View site. 

Previous grants of $4 million enabled acquisition and initial phases of renovation of the 400,000 plus square foot complex of former Daystrom buildings, which is envisioned as multi-tenant space. 

The IDA’s budget for the building anticipates one additional future request of $1.2 million to complete the site improvements that are planned. The county is currently working with two prospects for the Center and Virginia Tobacco Commission which reflect options for creating a multi-tenant facility with eight leasable spaces ranging from 25,000 to 100,000 square feet; or for providing the entire 332,000 square foot to a single company. 

The prospect considering leasing a portion of Area A, a 95,000 square foot space, could bring up to 70 jobs paying average annual wages of $35,000 and $2-$3 million private capital investment, according to information in the grant application. 

With multiple tenants occupying the building, the IDA plans to allocate up to 15 percent of the area to be available to SVHEC for workforce training and R&D pilot lines to help new and existing tenants expand. 

The 14,000 square feet at the front of the building with lower ceiling is identified as space that could be used for this training and research. 

Alternatively, the county is working with another prospect, a single company with expressed interest in leasing up to the entire 332,000 square feet available at the center. With this prospect representing the full economic development potential for this site and consistent with the county’s basic metric of one job per 800 square feet of manufacturing, the economic development potential for the center is estimated at 300-500 jobs created at $28,000 average annual wages and $50 million private capital investment. 

The USCAIP program which is the source of $427K in matching funds is in the approval and endorsement stage with the Halifax submission still in consideration. In the event that the USCAIP does not come through the IDA is committed to the 10 percent minimum match, the application further states.

Lumsden also updated board members on a $435,000 tobacco commission grant Halifax Regional Health System anticipates receiving in January that will provide for nursing home expansions at Woodview in South Boston and Meadowview Terrace in Clarksville. 

The expansions are the result of the reallocation of beds from the South Boston Manor property which closed last spring. 

This project requests funds for 10 percent of the $4.35 million capital costs for a 10,980 square foot renovation to create a 16-bed nursing care unit, 11,485 square foot new construction for creation of 20-bed memory support nursing care unit and construction of a new rehabilitation therapy gym, Lumsden explained.

The Certificate of Public Need indicates the addition of 36 nursing home beds to The Woodview is a relocation of 36 beds from the South Boston Manor and identifies the $3.783 million authorized capital cost “to be financed from the existing liquid assets of Halifax Regional Health System.” 

Lumsden said 20 new jobs are expected to be created as a result of the Woodview expansion, replacing some of the 60 jobs lost with the closing of the South Boston Manor.  

Construction is expected to begin on the expansion in mid to late spring, he added.