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Supervisors said the viability of the business center was vital.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
BEDFORD — To prepare for future commercial activity in its flagship industrial park, the Bedford County Board of Supervisors approved $2.4 million to build an electrical substation in the New London Business and Technology Center.
The substation will increase electrical capacity for the center on U.S. 460 in attracting businesses. The viability of the park is in jeopardy without the upgrade of electrical service, said Bedford County Economic Development Authority Chairman Craig Coker in a recent letter to the board.
Southside Electric Cooperative serves the business park, which consists of 500 acres with more than half of them undeveloped.
County Administrator Mark Reeter said the substation should remedy the inadequate power supply in the next year and a half. The board’s appropriation will fast track the construction to take care of what Reeter described as an infrastructure deficiency.
“This will fix that problem going into the future,” Reeter said.
The substation will be expandable to serve the park as it develops, he said. The park serves the Center for Advanced Engineering and Research and, on Tuesday, the county announced its second tenant, Simplimatic Automation, is constructing a new manufacturing facility on site.
“It never was configured for heavy industrial use,” Reeter said of the park. “This will take care of that issue.”
Coker said the authority’s top priority is marketing the park for future tenants. The authority could receive credits from Southside Electric based on the businesses attracted, which would be reimbursed to the county’s general fund through the next four years.
Traci Blido, economic development director, said the Center for Advanced Engineering and Research has stirred interest in the park and the electricity boost is desperately needed.
“We’re attracting and getting attention,” Blido said. “There’s a good vibe companies want to be a part of.”
Board Chairman Steve Arrington said the expense does not make officials happy but withholding spending in recent budget years put the county in the position to use an undesignated fund balance instead of borrowing money and incurring debt.
“Financing is not the way to go,” Arrington said.
The vote was 6-1 with Supervisor Curry Martin in opposition. The board also voted to appropriate $300,000 for radio infrastructure as part of a regional public safety initiative with Lynchburg and Amherst County.
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