By SHANNON WATKINS
Served by a Class I rail line, with a 16 inch water line with service from two directions, three 138kV electric transmission lines and three interstate high-pressure natural gas transmission lines, mega-site, 232-acre Lot 24, of Wythe County’s Progress Park, is ready for business.
Though the existing section of the industrial park sustained about 750 jobs, local officials decided to be proactive in helping the numbers grow.
Lot 24 started with a four-year project that moved approximately 3.5 million cubic feet of dirt. Supervisor-at-Large Tim Reeves said of the project, “When manufacturers go out looking for a suitable site to build their next factory, they don’t have the time to wait five years for the site to be made ready for construction.” He said that the county had already gotten site permits, grading and putting infrastructure in, to make the way easier for incoming businesses.
“You simply can’t find this level of infrastructure anywhere else in the Commonwealth,” noted Artie Hall, West Wytheville’s representative on the Wythe County Board of Supervisors.
Hall added, “A lot of folks are asking why the county has made such a large investment. The answer is very simple, because we’re expecting a great return.”
Speaking to an audience of community leaders and businessmen, Mary Rae Carter, deputy secretary for the Virginia Department of Commerce and Trade, applauded Progress Park’s Lot 24.
Carter called it, “second to none,” and stated, “You are all a model for rural Virginia communities. I see a lot of localities that are interested in becoming a global competitor, but they aren’t willing to put their skin in the game.”
State leaders pledged their fullest support in attracting a large-scale, well-paying manufacturer to the site. “The Virginia Economic Development Partnership is already marketing this site to consultants all over the globe. We’re contacting companies in the United States, Asia and Europe. Many have already expressed interest in this site,” announced Mike Lehmkuhler, Vice President of Business Development for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.
Lehmkuhler added, “Not only do you have the best manufacturing site in Virginia, but you have the premiere manufacturing site in the entire southeast.”