Highland County Economic Development Authority’s October Meeting
The Highland County Economic Development Authority held it’s monthly meeting October 17.
In the Bath-Highland Network Authority update, it was reported that fiber installation is progressing in the area through the 2021 Virginia Telecommunication Initiative broadband grant. MGW is on schedule with installation and there have been 88 new MGW fiber hookups over the last two months. Ninety percent of the funding from the 2021 grant has been spent and the funding from the 2022 broadband grant has yet to be used. The Bath-Highland Network Authority is still working to find a partner to improve cell coverage in the area.
The EDA’s Economic Development Officer, Betty Mitchell, reported on the Industrial Revitalization Fund Planning Grant, for renovation of the Highland Inn. Architectural and engineering design work is ongoing and input will be provided by a potential operator to finalize the design. Talks have also been held with four potentially interested operators for The Highland Inn.
Betty Mitchell also reported on the partial grant repayment from a 2021 Incentive Grant recipient. The recipient asked for an extension until April 1 to make the repayment. The recipient received a $5,000 grant, but moved away from Highland within two years, so is required to repay half of the grant. The EDA voted to approve the extension for repayment to April 1 and voted to send a certified letter stating the deadline for the repayment.
The EDA discussed the 2023 Incentive Grants Program. Applications will be available on November 22 and are due January 16.
The EDA voted to apply for a Department of Environmental Quality grant, which may provide funding for asbestos abatement and lead paint abatement at The Highland Inn. The grant requires that a government entity be the applicant, so the EDA approved being the applicant, instead of the non-profit Blue Grass Resource Center which owns the Inn. This grant will offer awards up to $500,000 and the estimate on work at The Highland Inn is about $200,000. A previous planning grant from the DEQ was received and used during phase one of renovation of The Highland Inn.
School Superintendent Dr. Drew Maerz attended the EDA meeting and said he is planning to have Highland County Schools work together with local businesses and the EDA to be a part of economic development. He is planning to develop an advisory council with local businesses to train students in economic development.