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Commission OKs projects for county

The Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission gave a green light to several Halifax County agencies yesterday during a meeting in South Hill, and one business also moved forward in its march toward funding. The full tobacco commission approved applications from the Halifax County Department of Tourism and the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) of Halifax County.

The Department of Tourism sought funds for building and land acquisition and building up-fit to establish a South Boston/Halifax County Visitor Center at the intersection of U.S. Highways 360 and 58.

The 12,000 square foot building, of which the front 4,000 square feet would be designated for the visitor center, is currently under negotiations for purchase.

The project, supported by the Industrial Development Authorities of South Boston and Halifax County and with resolutions from both elected bodies, is the first visitors’ center to receive funding in the history of the Tobacco Commission and is hailed as a model for possible future visitor center applications.

The IDA of Halifax County requested and received funds to purchase and rehabilitate the former Daystrom Furniture Plant and funds for the design and engineering of a 60,000 square foot industrial shell building in Riverstone Technology Park.

The IDA has interest in the Daystrom building and has placed the property under contract.

The 435,000 sq ft building is located on a rail line and served by water and sewer, will make available a publicly-owned building for attracting general manufacturing and distribution/warehousing companies.

The Riverstone shell building will be designed to provide for easy modification to meet needs of targeted industries – technical manufacturing, energy or data storage – with immediate expandability to 120,000 square feet.

The Halifax County Service Authority (HCSA) also received approval of funding toward expansion of the Maple Avenue Wastewater Treatment Plant and upgrades and improvements to the wastewater system and related facilities to improve operation efficiencies and address deficiencies and capacity needs for 20-year project flows, confirmed HCSA Executive Director Willie Jones.

The Maple Avenue WWTP will be converted into a regional facility with estimated reserve capacity of 1.7 MGC at start-up.

A total of 46 percent of the existing capacity is already directed to commercial customers, and the expanded facility will reduce future limitations and allow economic growth across key targeted areas in the county.

In separate action the commission also approved a request by Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative for Economic Development funds that were budgeted in FY 11 ($2.5 million each in the Southwest and the Southside regions to continue broadband deployment following the retirement of the Commission’s Technology program, according to MBC General Manager Grey Ramsey.

MBC received support for three aspects of the project:

1) continuation of 50/50 member matching grants program for capital investments for last-mile broadband service;

2) construction of 12 towers to enhance viability of extending wireless broadband services and

3) electronics and fiber to serve two critical economic development projects – the Microsoft facility at Boydton Plank Road GigaPark in Mecklenburg County and the installation of electronics to support the Goodyear Tire Research Center under development at the VIRginia International Raceway in Halifax County.

In total the commission received 18 applications for unobligated FY2011 balances of Southside Economic Development grant funds by the published deadline of Aug. 16.