County sends Mat­a­peake jobs re­port to state

Record Observer - - News - By MIKE DAVIS mdavis@kibay­times.com

KENT IS­LAND — The Queen Anne’s County Com­mis­sion­ers ap­proved the sign­ing of a semi-an­nual grant progress re­port to be sent to the state to up­date it on the num­ber of jobs cre­ated at the Mat­a­peake Pro­fes­sional Park on Kent Is­land. The county has un­til Feb. 28, 2017, to be in com­pli­ance with the grant re­quire­ments or be sub­ject to grant re­pay­ment.

The 50-acre pro­fes­sional park is lo­cated off of Route 8 on Kent Is­land and is des­ig­nated as a Pri­or­ity Fund­ing Area zoned as Sub­ur­ban In­dus­trial.

Af­ter re­ceiv­ing a let­ter from the Mary­land Depart­ment of Hous­ing and Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment in Fe­bru­ary stat­ing the county had not ful­filled its grant re­quire­ments re­gard­ing job cre­ation, the county was re­quired to send a semi-an­nual progress re­port to up­date the state on its sta­tus. The Feb. 19 let­ter to the com­mis­sion­ers gave a one-year ex­ten­sion where the county had to cre­ate 56 more jobs at the pro­fes­sional park or was sub­ject to pay back the en­tirety of the $575,000 Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Block Grant.

Be­tween Jan. 1 and June 30, one job has been cre­ated, bring­ing the to­tal num­ber of jobs cre­ated to five. The one job cre­ated was for an un­skilled la­borer, the progress re­port states.

The CDBG grant stip­u­lated that 60 jobs were to be cre­ated. CDBG grants are al­ways tied to job cre­ation. In the Fe­bru­ary let­ter from DHCD, it stated the county had only cre­ated four jobs. The grant re­quired that of the 60 jobs to be cre­ated at the park, 31 had to be for low- to mod­er­ate-in­come in­di­vid­u­als.

The grant money was used for park in­fra­struc­ture, such as road paving and sewer and wa­ter ac­cess, ac­cord­ing to County Ad­min­is­tra­tor Gregg Todd.

The ini­tial grant, which be­gan on April 1, 2011, was for $500,000. The county re­quested and re­ceived an ad­di­tional $75,000 for fur­ther in­fra­struc­ture con­struc­tion.

The pro­fes­sional park is bro­ken into seven lots, all of which have been sold. Queen Anne’s County owns two lots, which Todd said are to be used for forested buffers and not planned for de­vel­op­ment. The re­main­ing five lots are owned by Michi­gan Man­u­fac­tur­ing In­ter­na­tional, Ch­e­sa­peake Wiper and Sup­ply, Mil­tec, Com­mer­cial Car­pet Lo­gis­tics and Pen­guin Ven­tures.

Of the seven lots, Michi­gan Man­u­fac­tur­ing In­ter­na­tional and Ch­e­sa­peake Wiper and Sup­ply are the only com­pa­nies to have struc­tures com­pleted.

The county has had trou­ble ful­fill­ing the grant re­quire­ments re­gard­ing job cre­ation be­cause though all of the lots have been sold, not all have been de­vel­oped. Since there was no claw­back clause in the orig­i­nal sales agree­ments stat­ing a time­frame the com­pa­nies had to build by, the county has no way to make the lot own­ers build.

“Our strug­gle is that all of the lots are sold, and we re­ally can’t force them to build any quicker or move any faster with the de­vel­op­ment,” Todd said. “There’s re­ally not a lot we can do.”

Todd said that “ad­e­quate money” from the orig­i­nal lot sales is avail­able to be used if the county is un­able to cre­ate the nec­es­sary jobs and is forced to pay the state back, though there has been no dis­cus­sion re­gard­ing the route the county will take if re­pay­ment is re­quired.

Last spring the Depart­ment of Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment cre­ated its Busi­ness Rein­vest­ment and In­fra­struc­ture De­vel­op­ment Grant En­ter­prise, which is funded through a por­tion of the county’s recor­da­tion tax. The way the BRIDGE fund is set up, as well as the Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment In­cen­tive Fund, any fu­ture agree­ments with busi­nesses would be struc­tured with fall­back pro­vi­sions to en­sure the county does not get in the same sit­u­a­tion again re­gard­ing busi­nesses cre­at­ing jobs in un­spec­i­fied amounts of time.

Fol­low Mike Davis on Twit­ter: @mike_k­ibay­times.

PHOTO BY MIKE DAVIS

Michi­gan Man­u­fac­tur­ing In­ter­na­tional is one of two busi­nesses with struc­tures raised in the Mat­a­peake Pro­fes­sional Park on Kent Is­land off of Route 8. Queen Anne’s County has un­til Feb. 27, 2017, to cre­ate 55 more jobs at the park to sat­isfy re­quire­ments in a Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Block Grant it re­ceived in 2011.

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