I testified a few months back on behalf of our county seeking continued funding of the Rural Industrial Park Loan Program. It was the mechanism for our construction of the Ingenuity Center, and combined with the Rural Industrial Park Grant Program (which wasn’t renewed sadly) eased in development of the 7 North Commerce Park where Grae-Con is now.
Today the guidelines for the RIPL program were released and application opens soon. There is 25 million in the fund, and communities are already lining up to apply for the needed assistance to develop or enhance their industrial parks.
The program is only open to select counties, and the fund is on a first come first serve basis. When I testified for its continued use, it was my hope we could be in a position to utilize the fund. Sadly, we are not. We do not own land for creation of an industrial park (30 acres minimum) and we don’t yet have the community buy-in to support a long term development plan that would see property enhanced for industrial park creation.
In many ways the programs that emirate from the state are accelerator funds designed to help those communities who moved themselves off the on ramp and onto the expressway. We need to realize we aren’t on the on-ramp, and that is the goal for the foreseeable future. When surrounding communities secure these funds and use these funds and add new jobs, we know why. They were already working toward it, and got lots of help from the state. For those communities like ours, who aren’t where they need to be and aren’t actively pursuing development, the programs seldom drop down to reach us.