Note from Dan: The regular “Still Learning” posted this about the New River Valley Commerce Park on Tuesday’s column thread.
“The Commerce Park was a project promoted by the NRV, mainly Pulaski County, and it was a boondoggle from the start.
The land did not have direct interstate access or adequate utilities, nor was it located with an adequate educated and available labor market. No “mega site” user as was targeted by the government developers of this park would have ever considered it for these reasons.
But under the misguided feel good excuse of “regional cooperation at any cost” this newspaper touted it as a project that local governments could not afford to pass up and editorialized ad nauseum about its future benefits for both the Roanoke and New River Valleys. Bev Fitzpatrick relentlessly lobbied Roanoke City Council into this deal, and then shamed Roanoke County into following suit while Salem saw the obvious and declined to invest in the project.
Both Roanoke City and County would love to exit this “deal” today as they know that their localities will most likely never, and I mean NEVER, see a return on their investment. Both localities are also contractually obligated to investing millions more over the next few decades to retire the debt. Most local governments in this 13-member partnership see it for what it is and they are still smarting from being snookered by Pulaski County.
My guess is that is the reason only Pulaski County participated in the local incentive package offered to this “technology” company as the top man for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership described it. Pulaski County is the only one who has much to gain, as they are the majority owner and the park is located within their boundaries.
If John/Jane Doe citizen saw a balance sheet of public dollars that have spent on this project (Federal State and Local) along with an analysis of an anticipated return on investment, they might just be tempted to join the Tea Potters. But I guess that was too much for ol Bob for Jobs to get into yesterday.”