Jefferson County is offering a grant up to $143,000 to entice someone to build manufacturing or industrial space within the county.
County Commissioners finalized the program during a meeting Wednesday.
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. Additionally, the grant recipient could apply for up to $18,000 in “rent gap” to cover costs if the building stays vacant after it’s completed.
The grant is 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 of November 4th at 2 p.m.
The grant concept was discussed in May after receiving a report from the County’s Economic Development Program Coordinator (EDCO), Janet Brown 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 Kelly Simmelink, county commissioner. “These companies do not want to wait 12-24 months for permitting and construction, they want to be able to move right in.”
Simmelink told Central Oregon Daily the commission didn’t necessarily have a wish list of specific applicants, but “we want jobs – something that is going to create good paying jobs, family wages.”
County Commissioner Mae Huston said many of the economic development tools to attract businesses to the are are geared toward those that can be patient through the project and have the means for a large capital project.
“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,” Huston said.
Having an occupant ready is not a part of the grant requirement.
“The successful applicant has several timelines they need to meet. 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,” said Wayne Fording, county commissioner. “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.”
Simmerlink said the county recognizes it’s not a huge grant, but it might just be the catalyst to open the floodgates for more, future development.
“There’s a million different things that could happen from this,” he said. “Maybe it’s enough for people to notice Jefferson County has great land prices. Maybe it’s enough to push them over the edge and see Jefferson County as a player.”
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 November 4, at 2 p.m.