FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – April 6, 2023
The Southern Virginia Regional Alliance (SVRA) is pleased to join localities of Halifax, Patrick and Pittsylvania Counties and the City of Danville in announcing twenty-one sites that will move from Tier-Two to Tier-Four sites (signifying shovel-ready sites) in the Virginia Business Ready Sites Program (VBRSP) and eight sites that will move from Tier-Two to Tier-Five (shovel ready sites with graded pad sites). SVRA received $1,534,900 from GO Virginia Region 3 and $454,100 from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission (TRRC) to further the preparation of sites in areas identified with specific assets for transportation such as rail and highway access, utilities inclusive of significant supply of natural gas, electricity and water supply along with a demonstrated available labor shed and workforce pipeline. Southern Virginia leads the Commonwealth in the number of prepared sites, one of the reasons for the success they are achieving in business attraction. The strategy by local elected officials, government and economic development staff to keep an inventory of ready sites that serve diverse industries, leads to sites that are ready to market for prospects who need to ensure that the risks of building on the sites have been assessed and minimized.
The SVRA service region has worked with the engineering firms of Dewberry and Reynolds and Clark to complete right-of-way; engineering and building for reliable, redundant and abundant sites across the region. The strategy for site development included meeting diverse needs and has resulted in six VBRSP Tier-4 industrial parks in the region that provide access to eight VBRSP Tier-5 graded sites that are ready for immediate construction. An additional 21 VBRSP Tier-4 sites have completed the engineering due-diligence and are ready for grading and building within 12-18 months.
Sites range in size from 3.4 to 67 acres with from 2.5-32 acres of developable pad sites that can readily accommodate buildings from 20,000 sq. ft. to 600,000 square feet in size. Some of the lots can be joined to accommodate larger pad sites for expansion capacity with up to double lot.
In addition, with 1902 developable acres in the Southern Virginia Megasite at Berry Hill (SVMS), the 3,528-acre park can accommodate buildings in excess of ten million square feet with enormous volumes of redundant electricity, water, sewer, natural gas, rail, fiber and 4-lane access to the future Interstate I-785 with direct access to the 85-40 corridor and proximity to the Port of Virginia and a manufacturing skilled labor shed and workforce pipeline. The site is already a Tier 4 Park with a Tier 5 pad site of nearly 200 acres. In addition, there is another large pad under completion that will be added to the Tier 5 certifications for VBRSP in the near future for which grading was provided through the Virginia Business Ready Sites Program at VEDP. Concept drawings from 2.6 MSF to 10 MSF can be seen on the website at www.SOVAMegasite.com . As noted from the previous table, this park can accommodate sizes that are not possible at other site locations.
This is not a region that is fishing for the whale of a megasite project while relinquishing small and medium sized industrial wins. In fact, this is a united region that recognizes that different towns, cities and communities have varied assets and resources. They are content to match the strengths across the region and to attract companies who benefit from shared access to resources of a strong labor shed and workforce pipeline that is supported regionally. Community development also sees support for town and city epicenters to support the region.
Mega projects often look at not only site potential at the SVMS but to an expanded 45 to 60-mile radius of sites across the region. This has enabled the region to focus on small and medium sized companies as well as the large industry partners who present the strongest opportunities for long term success. Collectively these small to medium sized projects have resulted in mega jobs and investments to the region that has never sacrificed the steady job flow and importance of individual diversification while also looking for large regional wins.
But megasite pursuit has also provided an educated regional and local economic development team with in-depth knowledge of key needs and assets sought by companies making major investments at all levels. Working with international site consultants on the responses and needs of companies both on sites and community development has led to a more inclusive regional approach to ensuring future successes for small, medium and large projects, supplier parks, and community development across the region that can sustain a diverse and skilled manufacturing base that raises the gross domestic product of the region.
Linda Hutson Green
From the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance