County sends Matapeake jobs report to state
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.
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.