Montgomery County planning to buy 124 acres to expand industrial park

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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ7) New property being purchased in Montgomery County is expected to create hundreds of new jobs thanks to the type of space it is.

The Falling Branch Industrial Park is 175 acres housing several big plants and businesses. But next to it is 124 more acres the Economic Development Authority (EDA) of Montgomery County entered into a contract with Cox Family Farms, LLC, to purchase on May 27.

The County Planning Commission visited Cox Family Farms, LLC. property Wednesday to see what it looks like and if an industrial park expansion would work here.

Montgomery County and the Town of Christiansburg would need to rezone the land, as approximately 77 acres of the land is in Christiansburg and 47 acres are in the county.

A Public Hearing with the Planning Commission related to the rezoning request will take place on July 19, followed by a Public Hearing with the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors on July 24.

There's also environmental testing that needs to be done before the sale can go through.

Montgomery County Board of Supervisors Chair Christopher Tuck explained, "There is some karst topography here, we want to make sure that the land is suitable for what we're talking about. It's one thing for it to be farm land, it's another thing to be putting a large building on top of it."

Tuck doesn't expect any issues in the testing.

To have this space would open up opportunities for more big companies and plants to come in.

Charlie Jewell is the Executive Director of the New River Valley Economic Development Alliance.

He said, "Last year, the total number of prospects that we worked with, the average minimum site requirement was 40 acres. So in order to compete for those opportunities, if you don't have a site meeting the minimum criteria, companies won't consider you for their project."

The largest land available right now in the county is 16 acres.

The space also works well, as the Industrial Park is already there.

"Companies like to be around other companies, so the fact that Falling Branch is already home to a number of manufacturers and technology companies would certainly help in the recruitment of a company to the park," Jewell said.

As of June, 146 acres of Falling Branch Industrial Park is occupied by businesses including Aeroprobe Corporate, Backcountry, Dish Network, Ferguson Enterprises, Inc., Inorganic Ventures, Polymer Solutions Inc., PreStar Packaging, leaving 29 acres divided into three separate lots available.

To buy the new land will cost $2.5 million, or roughly $20,161 per acre.

But the County said taxes will not be going up for that.

Tuck explained, "When we've had savings, we've set some money aside. Where there's been other projects where we haven't used all those funds, we're dipping into that to make sure that we've got the money to be able to buy the land."

Both Tuck and Jewell were asked what they envision going in this expansion if approved.

Tuck said he'd love to see Tesla manufacturing and companies launched by Virginia Tech graduates.

Jewell said in the NRV, it's all about bringing in advanced manufacturing, food and beverage processing, IT, and unmanned systems.