WISE — A Wise County business owner claims the county Industrial Development Authority gives short shrift to homegrown and operated businesses.
Archie K. Maggard, president of Maggard Sales & Service Inc. in Pound, a mining supplies company, said Friday he gave up trying to work with the Wise County IDA during ongoing plans to expand his business.
After submitting a business plan to the IDA to locate another facility near Norton, Maggard said he was shown inadequate properties for the expansion he had in mind, with some bait-and-switch in the mix. The last piece offered for his perusal struck Maggard as hilarious, in some unfunny kind of way.
“When I looked at it, I mean it was a joke. It was the side of a hill. For a local businessman to be treated that way, the whole idea of it was just ridiculous.”
Maggard took his complaints to the Wise County Board of Supervisors.
“It’s been ongoing for eight to 10 months now. I told the supervisors that we were trying to expand our business, and they’ve got all that level land down there, and don’t want to let any of it go,” he said. “They want $50,000 to $100,000 per acre for it like it’s a Super Wal-Mart development or something. It doesn’t compare.”
Maggard Sales & Service is a 21-year-old enterprise with 19 employees.
“Our plans are to double in two years. I think we could have doubled our business and doubled our employees. We wanted to keep our business here in Pound and have another one in Esserville. They just wouldn’t offer me anything but scrub property,” Maggard said. “I think the way the IDA works is that two people control it. It’s whatever they think, and it’s apparently not much if you are local. Then you don’t get anything done.”
Wise County IDA Executive Director Carl Snodgrass declined comment.
Maggard said his experience with the IDA was not the way to run a successful business.
“They say they’re going to help you out and take care of it and all this, and then offer you a piece of property that isn’t fit for anything — certainly not what we had in mind,” he said. “If they don’t offer you something you can use, what’s the point? The whole deal is landlocked on one acre of property? To build a 30,000- to 40,000-square-foot building you need more than an acre or acre and a half. And that last piece of property I looked at, it was a joke. Literally a joke.”
Maggard said he finally did things the old-fashioned way and took matters in his own hands.
“There’s 48 acres of property across from where we’re at in Pound we’re working on and trying to buy it. We’ll have to do a lot of grade work and development on it, but it’s either $100,000 for a level lot down there we can’t use, or $400,000 for 48 acres, so it doesn’t take much to figure out which is better for us,” he said.
“I don’t think local business gets a fair shake with grants and loans like outsiders do. We have full benefits, we pay better than minimum wage, and we’re looking to expand and help grow our economy. I guess the fact they already have you here in the county, you’re just not treated like somebody who moves in for four or five years to take advantage of all the tax breaks and grants and things like that, then move on to another county.”
Two years ago, similar complaints of redheaded stepchild treatment were leveled at local and regional economic development agencies by Buchanan Pump & Service, located near Pound.
That homegrown company was within a whisker of relocating lock, stock and barrel to Kentucky before the bureaucratic wheels of business development cranked into action. Buchanan Pump expanded at its present location with a loan package it found difficult to come by before making its concerns — and possible abandonment of the county and state — known to the public.