Applications Due For 2020 Highland EDA Grant Incentive Program

“I’m Bryan Obaugh – I am the Chair of the Highland County Economic Development Authority. I’ve been asked to give a brief overview of the 2020 Highland EDA Grant Incentive Program.”

“So the purpose of the Highland County EDA grant is to encourage the growth and success of small business within Highland County. The grants program is designed to provide a mechanism for the EDA to evaluate and award incentives to local businesses; to encourage entrepreneurship; to provide new job opportunities for local residents; and increase the commercial tax base of our county. The grants range anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000, per business. The purpose is to assist with startup or expansion expenses, and can be awarded for the following uses: purchase of supplies, equipment, inventory, and or down payments towards lease and purchase of commercial property, renovations or minor repair to a new commercial location, utility conduction fees, advertising, marketing expenses, job training. Normal operating expenses such as rent, utilities, payroll taxes – those are not allowable expenses.”

He continued, “There are some guidelines for this grant. Preference to applicants is given to those who are starting or expanding a business in Highland County. Only one applicant is permitted per business. Recipients of past grants are ineligible for the 2020 grant cycle. Due to limiting economic impact, Bed and Breakfasts are not eligible. Businesses that relocate out of Highland County within two years of receiving grant funds must repay 50% of the grant awarded.

Mr. Obaugh noted some past grant recipients.

“The first year of awards was 2017 – recipients were Big Fish Cider –  Kirk Billingsley; Michael and Kari Sponaugle of Church Hill Produce; and Jim and Katie King of Fireside Farm.  Then, the next year, 2018, Back Creek Farm – Pat and Valerie Lowry; Laurel Fork Sapsuckers, which would be Missy Moyers-Jarrels; and Highland Massage School which was Nicole Frye.”

He provided information on how to apply.

“If an individual is interested in applying for the incentive grant program for 2020, these applications can be found or downloaded at, or The Highland Center’s website, which is – so our local Chamber of Commerce or The Highland Center’s websites. In addition to that, interested parties could pick up an application on the first floor or the main lobby of our county courthouse. Complete applications must be received by 4:30pm September 30, 2019. They may be hand delivered to the Highland County Circuit Court office or mail to: Highland EDA, P.O. Box 68, Monterey, VA, 24465.”

The applications are scored on a number of criteria including: number of current and projected employees; need for funding; business plan; financials; marketing initiatives, and readiness.

“The grants will be awarded for items and/or projects performed or received after approval of the application. Once approved, you must have this completed within six months of approval – funds are then awarded to the applicant in one of two ways. The first way would be in the form of reimbursement upon satisfactory completion of a task or project – or two, in the form of a payment directly to the vendor. Grant recipients must agree to a short follow up interview with an EDA six months after grant funds are received.”

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

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