Authority allows localities to collaborate on projects

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Print this page by Joan Tupponce
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The Lonesome Pine Regional Industrial Facility Authority will be the first in far Southwest Virginia.

After two years of research and preparation, the new Lonesome Pine Regional Industrial Facility Authority is approved and ready to go. It will be making its debut this quarter. The new authority, similar to the Danville-Pittsylvania Regional Industrial Facility Authority, will benefit the economic projects of its members — Lee, Wise, Scott and Dickenson counties and the city of Norton.

“This will be the first regional industrial facility authority [RIFA] to be created in far Southwest Virginia,” says Duane Miller, executive director of the Lenowisco Planning District Commission, which represents all of the RIFA members except Dickenson County.

A RIFA, which operates under the guidelines set by the Code of Virginia, allows multiple counties and municipalities to work together as a region. It supports revenue sharing and serves as a mechanism for sharing resources.

“We thought by forming the RIFA it would allow for partner resources on certain projects to make our region more competitive,” Miller says. “It will also complement other regional initiatives.”

RIFAs are beneficial because they give member counties and municipalities the opportunity to pick and choose the projects they want to participate in. “We didn’t want to create an organization that made the members put funds toward all of the projects, rather just the specific projects they choose that would be a benefit to their region or county,” Miller says.

For example, any member of the authority that needs capital or funding for a project can go to the authority to ask whether any other members want to participate. The actual project may not be in the county that has agreed to help with funding “but by participating in it, there will be a payoff,” Miller says. “Employment opportunities would be available to all counties as would revenue sharing.”

The authority had its first organizational meeting in December. It will start looking at potential projects during the first quarter of 2018. Miller doesn’t anticipate staffing the authority for the first few years. “If we have a lot of growth and it becomes a revenue generator, then we will talk about staffing,” he says. “If you hear we are staffing, then things are good.”

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