A large-scale hemp industrial processing facility, Golden Piedmont Labs, is set to begin operations later this month in South Boston.
At the same time, construction of a shell building to attract new industry to Halifax County is on target to be completed by the end of the year.
Halifax County Industrial Development Authority executive director Brian Brown updated the board on the upfit of the building at 2525 Houghton Ave., located in the J. Aubrey Houghton Industrial Park, when the board met Friday morning in the conference room in the Southern Virginia Technology Park.
He said the Golden Piedmont Labs facility (formerly known as Blue Ribbon Extraction) is still on target for opening later this month, and the IDA has received the county’s funding allocation toward the building upfit.
“The project is moving rapidly. We’re very excited to see that project moving forward,” Brown told the board.
The hemp processing and cannabinoid (CBD) oil extraction facility will be the first of its kind in Virginia.
The IDA purchased the Houghton Avenue building for $1.7 million that will house the facility, and an estimated additional $1.5 million was spent upfitting the facility for operations.
Brown noted the deficit in the IDA’s budget for the 2020 fiscal year of $359,512.94 was due to the $370,886.27 transfer for the purchase of the Houghton Avenue building.
Without that, he said the IDA budget would have been under budget by $11,377.33.
At Friday’s meeting, Brown also updated the board on the progress of the construction of the “shell building” at the entrance of the Southern Virginia Technology Park.
He estimated the project should be completed by the end of the year, which is later than anticipated due to more than 30 days of rain during the construction phase.
The Samet Corporation, a contracting company based in Greensboro, North Carolina, broke ground on the shell building in late March. The IDA’s goal in constructing the shell building is to attract new industries to Halifax County.
“We would like to see an advanced manufacturing industry with at least 30 or 40 and up to 150 employees in the shell building,” Brown said.
The shell building currently stands at 50,000 square feet, but Brown said the building could be expanded to 150,000 square feet if needed to attract a larger industry to Halifax County, and the IDA owns all plans for the expansion of the facility.
Brown also announced at Friday’s meeting that the IDA has received a $200,000 grant for tourism-based businesses in Halifax County, as they have experienced a loss of revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each business applying for the grant is eligible to receive up to $75,000 in funding.
The IDA executive director said he views the two racetracks in Halifax County – the South Boston Speedway and Virginia International Raceway – as being the ideal recipients of the tourism-based business grants. More information about the grants is forthcoming.
Prior to adjourning Friday’s meeting, the IDA board also had a brief discussion about the process of rebranding the IDA. IDA’s assistant director Tracy Mallard has been working with Letterpress Communications to develop a logo and branding plan to reflect the services the IDA provides to the business community.
The board had also considered changing the name of the IDA from the Industrial Development Authority to the Economic Development Authority (EDA). Board treasurer Mattie Cowan clarified that the reason for the name change is to reflect the fact that the IDA not only considers industry but also looks at the “broader economic scope” of Halifax County. Brown replied yes, that was correct. Board member Ryland Clark suggested holding off on the name change from the IDA to the EDA at least until the beginning of next year. Other board members agreed.
Additional meetings on the IDA’s rebranding process are planned and a set of options will be presented to the board in the first quarter of fiscal year 2021.
The next meeting of the IDA is scheduled for Oct. 16 at 8:30 a.m. in the main conference room at 1100 Confroy Drive.