With the lack of industrial space in the county hampering efforts to expand some types of business, the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners is taking action to encourage construction rentable space.
At the commission's Sept. 4 meeting, commissioners finalized a grant program that offers up to $143,000 for someone to build manufacturing or industrial space located within Jefferson County. The grant would offer up to $125,000 for a building of 60,000 square feet. The minimum size to be eligible would be 20,000 square feet.
In addition, the grant recipient could apply for up to $18,000 in "rent gap" to cover costs if the building stays vacant after it is completed. The grant is very flexible and does not require property to be identified at the time of the application, but scoring for the grant incentivizes applicants that have property or leased property at the time of the submission deadline, Nov. 4.
The grant concept was discussed in May, after the commission heard a report from Janet Brown, county coordinator for Economic Development of Central Oregon, that several companies were looking for information for communities similar to Jefferson County, but want ready-to-rent space between 10,000 and 80,000 square feet.
"Unfortunately, we just don't have any inventory that fits that criteria," said County Commissioner Kelly Simmelink.
"These companies do not want to wait 12-24 months for permitting and construction; they want to be able to move right in," continued Simmelink.
"Many of the economic development tools to attract business to Jefferson County are geared to businesses that can be patient through a building project and have sufficient capital for a large capital project," said Commissioner Mae Huston. "It appears from the data that perhaps incentivizing construction might fulfill a need and be attractive to business ventures that want to move at a more rapid pace."
Having an occupant ready is not a part of the grant requirement.
"The successful applicant has several timelines they need to meet," said Commissioner Wayne Fording. "They will not receive any grant funding until the project is complete. The grant program's goal is to get someone to add inventory; we believe occupancy will follow quickly."
"However, the timeline does allow sufficient time for someone who does want to take advantage of this grant and the other tax abatement programs offered by the Enterprise Zone designation," added Fording.
The funds being used for the grant are proceeds from a 1980s Oregon Community Development Grant that the county used to establish a business economic development loan program. The county originally received $400,000 and the program has a current value over $800,000.
Grant details are available at www.jeffco.net/RFPs and the deadline for sealed applications is 2 p.m. Nov. 4.
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