Consulting firm to present their findings for Avard Rail Park site assessment

The Avard Regional Rail Park Authority meeting's open session was brief on Tuesday. Members Stan Bixler, Ed Sutter and Allan Poe were without the presence of Todd Holder (who was attending another board meeting elsewhere) but were joined by several others. Those included commissioner Randy McMurphy, count clerk Shelley Reed, consultant Sonja Williams, and WCEDC Executive Director Jeremy Zeller. In addition, Jared Cooper from State Commerce and Emblem Strategies' Jill Shero joined by video conference.

The governing body approved the minutes from their last meeting, followed by the finance report. Williams went over a few things, and the board approved it. The balance sheet reflected $464,508.84 in checking/savings.

TOP Grant

Before the group convened in an executive session, Zeller told them everything that needed to go to Insight Consulting for the $24,000 TOP Grant had gone to the consulting firm, which was scheduled to present their findings on Thursday, Jan. 19. The grant has been Zeller's primary focus, as he has completed mounds and mounds of paperwork and worked through relentless red tape, all of which Bixler thanked him for.

As a refresher, the TOP Grant stems from the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act. The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) allocated $3 billion supplemental funding to assist communities nationwide. The EDA made the funding available through six different programs, one being the Economic Adjustment Assistance program.

The point is to get sites shovel-ready for economic development. (Shovel-ready generally refers to commercial and industrial sites with all the planning, zoning, surveys, title work, environmental studies, soil analysis, and public infrastructure engineering completed before putting the site up for sale and under the legal control of a community or other third party.)

The $24,000 could only be used for site assessments, and of the three firms the U.S. Government allowed, the Avard Regional Rail Park Authority chose Insight Group from South Carolina.


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