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IDA to lease building to Lenowisco

WALTER LITTRELL • Apr 5, 2007 at 11:39 AM

JONESVILLE - The Lee County Industrial Development Authority on Thursday agreed to lease a portion of the former Lee Textiles building in Ewing to Lenowisco Inc. for $1 per year for two years for use as a public computer center for the Connect Ewing broadband Internet project.

Lenowisco Inc. representative Joan Porter told the authority's board of directors that funding officials are concerned that a site originally considered for the computer center when a grant was awarded for the project may be too small. She then asked to use a portion of the Lee Textiles building, saying grant money will be used to renovate the necessary space and also provide funding for the Lonesome Pine Regional Library to staff the center for two years.

IDA Director Tim Long added that having traffic to the building may increase the chance of finding a tenant or lead to the development of a small business incubator in another part of the facility.

Under questioning by IDA members, Porter said the project will not cost the authority anything, and she would be willing to relocate the computer center should the IDA find a permanent tenant for the building if the additional space is needed. She added that she is willing to work next year when the funding cycle comes around to find funding for the proposed incubator.

A motion to approve the lease, pending approval of the funding agency and IDA attorney Greg Edwards, was approved unanimously.

The authority also authorized Long and Edwards to work with County Administrator Dane Poe to obtain interim financing for renovations to the first floor of the courthouse, which was recently vacated by the Department of Social Services.

The IDA provided funding for the new social services building and has also agreed to obtain funding for the renovations so an E-911 control center and the sheriff's department can locate there.

Poe advised the board that since a federal budget has not been approved for the current fiscal year, planned funding from Rural Development cannot be obtained in time for the project to begin as planned.

Poe said the county has already advertised for funding proposals, but said since the authority is providing the long-term financing, it will also have to provide interim financing. He assured the authority that the county will make all payments for the loans and that the IDA will be held harmless. The board then authorized the three to work together to review the bids and to act as necessary to keep the project moving forward.

Long also reported that since DeRoyal Industries has vacated the former Donnkenny building in Dryden, the monthly $1,300 payment to the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority "is hurting our finances." Therefore, he said, he has talked with VCEDA officials who have agreed to waive the payments until a tenant can be found for the building.The meeting ended with a closed session to discuss prospective businesses and other matters.

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