Press "Enter" to skip to content

UVa research park gets $3M grant to help attract businesses

The University of Virginia’s research park in Albemarle County has received a $3 million grant to help it attract more businesses by speeding up the timeline from application to approval.

The money is intended to give a boost to the 500-plus-acre North Fork Discovery Park off Route 29 that has “quietly grown over the years,” in UVa’s own words, since the land was purchased in 1986.

Today the park hosts more than 30 companies supporting roughly 1,800 jobs largely in the fields of science, technology, government work and academia, according to UVa. There is more than 100,000 square feet of office and flex space at the park available for rent, according to the North Fork website.

“This is the first step to inviting a significant investment and career ladder employment,” J.T. Newberry, a business manager at Albemarle County’s Office of Economic Development, told The Daily Progress on Wednesday.

The grant from the Virginia Business Ready Sites Program, part of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, specifically targets a 31-acre section of the park.

Virginia classifies sites of potential developments in five tiers, with the first tier being a “green field” and the fifth tier being a site that’s ready for a company to take over.

Taking a site from the first to the fifth tier is a process that can take more than a year, according to Deborah van Eersel, the chief administrative officer and director of marketing at the UVa Foundation, which owns and operates the park.

“The longer that takes, the less attractive a site is to a site selector,” van Eersel told The Daily Progress on Wednesday.

Newberry said the grant gives his office in the county the option to say yes to potential businesses that want to come in. Businesses will sometimes approach the office asking if there is space for them to set up shop within a year or a year and a half, Newberry said. If rezoning or a special use permit is necessary, it can take a year to even know whether a site can be used for that business’s purpose.

“This grant will allow us to say, we’ve got 31 1/2 acres owned by the University of Virginia Foundation. If you align with North Fork’s master plan, you can contact them about locating right here,” Newberry said.

Any business that wants in will have to receive approval from the county, the UVa Foundation and the state.

“It’s a three-way partnership,” Newberry said.

North Fork is zoned for nearly any use that’s not residential, Van Eersel said.

“We have lots of different uses, whether that be office, industrial, laboratory. … We have the right to build hotel and retail at certain points of development,” van Eersel said. Whether the space becomes a hotel or shop is up to what businesses are interested.

Both Newberry and van Eersel said the grant should bring more jobs to Albemarle County.

“We hope in the process of doing all this, we’re helping to create jobs for the community, as well as folks coming in associated with the university,” van Eersel said.


Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    %d bloggers like this: