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Cathy Dyson writes about King George County. You can email her at cdyson@freelancestar.com.

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County makes improvements to industrial park

King George County is bringing improvements to its industrial park after a company announced last month it would like to relocate there.

The county said it can’t release information about the company—such as where it currently operates—until the business secures rail funds from the state.

In an effort to get the process moving, the Board of Supervisors passed a resolution last month. The county supported the company’s application for industrial access railroad funds from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.

In the resolution, the company was listed as HGAC LLC of Delaware and described as a national rebar fabrication manufacturer. Rebar is used in construction; the steel rods reinforce concrete.

The Commonwealth Transportation Board will consider the application for $450,000 in rail funds on June 18. According to the CTB’s website, the funds would be used to build 4,200 linear feet of track served by CSX Transportation.

The additional track would generate another 1,000 railcars annually from the industrial park, which is off State Route 3 and across from the King George Landfill.

Even before the state awards the grant, King George is spending money to make improvements, as promised in the resolution. The county has $975,830 to spend on park infrastructure, said County Administrator Travis Quesenberry.

The money was set aside in 2008, after King George borrowed $28 million from the Virginia Resource Authority. That loan covered the design and construction of several projects: the new Sheriff’s Office and animal pound, expansion of the L.E. Smoot Memorial Library, development of two parks and upgrades to wastewater treatment plants.

In recent weeks, the supervisors have allocated $97,780 for design services to bring water and sewer to the area, for engineering work on the rail design and surveying fees.

The county also allocated $86,000 to extend fiber-optic cable to the park.

“I think we all concur and agree that it’s a critical piece,” said Chairman Joe Grzeika said on June 3 after the board approved the expense.

MetroCast Services will build a fiber-optic “backbone” down Route 3, then follow the train tracks toward Birchwood Creek Road. Any business in the park interested in fiber-optic services would pay the “last mile construction,” ranging from $5,574 to $21,792, according to the MetroCast proposal.

The county looked at a more expensive option of adding connection points, “but because we were uncertain where those connections might go, we decided to build the backbone and let the other people pay for the connections,” Quesenberry told the supervisors.

The plan to bring fiber-optic cable to the park already was in the works, said Linwood Thomas, the county’s economic development director. But the timetable was accelerated with the rebar company’s announcement.

“It never hurts when new corporations show interest in relocating to the park,” he said.

In his monthly reports to the board, Thomas has discussed “Project Metal Works” since January. He’s reported that the company has more than 60 locations throughout the United States and the world and that the move to King George would result in the capital investment of $8 million to $12 million.

His report also said it would create 60 to 80 jobs, but the application with the Commonwealth Transportation Board said the company’s expansion would result in 10 new jobs.

As word spread about the company’s interest, King George resident Warren Veazey wondered why the county would try to lure a rebar manufacturer to the industrial park when it already has one there.

“I don’t think we are supporting our existing industrial park business by bringing in competition,” Veazey posted on Supervisor Ruby Brabo’s Facebook page.

Gerdau Ameristeel opened a $6 million plant in King George in 2006. At that time, the local plant was creating about 45,000 tons of concrete-reinforcing steel per year, and the company was the fourth-largest steel producer in the world, according to a story in The Free Lance–Star.

Thomas said manufacturers like to cluster near similar industries so they can share resources and labor markets.

“They are not retail store fronts,” he wrote in an email. “These companies are competing in a global economy.”

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