Highland EDA January Meeting – Part 1
At the Highland County Economic Development Authority’s January meeting, Economic Development Officer Betty Mitchell reported on a grant project available for work on The Highland Inn. An Industrial Revitalization Fund Planning Grant is available, with awards up to $100,000, with no match required. Planning Grant recipients can then apply for full IRF Grants in July. The Planning Grant application is due February 11, with awards made at the end of February. The EDA voted to submit an application for the Planning Grant. The EDA will be the applicant, since non-profits can’t apply. The non-profit Blue Grass Resource Center, the Inn’s owner, will write the grant and carry out the planning grant activities, such as identifying an operator for the Inn, finalizing construction documents and putting together a funding package. Then the project will be ready for application for a full IRF Grant in late July. The Blue Grass Resource Center will work in conjunction with EDA Chair George Hogshead and EDA Member Jamie Collins. The full IRF Grant awards will be up to $5 million dollars, with a dollar for dollar match. There’s a rough estimate of $3 million needed to complete the work on the Inn.
The EDA heard the recommendations of the subcommittee on the 2022 Incentive Grants, during a closed session. There are plans to ask the county for additional funding for the Incentive Grants, before final decisions on awards are made.
Chair George Hogshead lead discussion on the EDA’s proposed budget for next fiscal year. Usually, the EDA’s budget is $2,500 for operating expenses and $15,000 for allocation of Incentive Grant Awards. Hogshead suggested increasing the Incentive Grants amount, explaining that last year the EDA awarded $20,000 in Incentive Grants, since all the allocated money was not awarded in the previous year. He said this year there are nine applicants. He suggested asking for $20,000 or $25,000 in the proposed budget. He said it may not all be used, depending on the number of applicants, but it would be available if needed, and the EDA would not have to go back to the Board of Supervisors to ask for additional money. During discussion, EDA member Henry Budzinski said he felt that $25,000 was too much, due to his concerns about the possibility of rising taxes and the EMS Fee, but he agreed with the $20,000 suggestion. The EDA approved submitting it’s proposed budget with $20,000 for Incentive Grants and $2,500 for operating expenses.
To hear part two of this story from the Highland Economic Development Authority’s January meeting, stay tuned to Allegheny Mountain Radio.