Sweet reviews ‘very busy’ first year in county

County Administrator Jonathan Sweet on Monday night gave the Board of Supervisors a recap of what he called a “very busy year” – his first in Pulaski County.

Sweet heaped praise on his staff for the many successes the county has achieved during the past year.

“We have a talented and hard-working staff.  I couldn’t be more pleased with them,” Sweet said. “All of this is truly a team effort.  I don’t know of another county this size that is this busy advancing their community. They make me look good.”

Topping the list of highlights of his review of 2017 were no less than eight new job announcements during the course of the year that promise 688 new jobs for the citizens of the county over the next three years, and some $61 million in new capital investment.

The eight include:

• Phoenix Expansion, $49 million, 145 jobs

• Reynolds Performance, $100,000, 5 jobs

• Weightman Construction, $500,000, 18 jobs

• MicroXact, $1.1 million, 15 jobs

• Koinonia, $5 million, 40 jobs

• Rural King, $2 million, 45 jobs

• MTM, $0 and 20 jobs

• Volvo Ramp-Up, $2.75 million, 400 new jobs

Sweet said all but 50 of the new jobs are in enhanced manufacturing. He noted, too, that the capital investments being made by the companies represent a substantial amount in machine and tool tax revenue for the county.

“These are transformative investments that are being made in Pulaski County,” Sweet said.

“I am so glad to be a part of an economic development team that is producing quality work and facilitating the creation of jobs for our citizens,” he added.

Supervisors Chairman Andy McCready pointed out to Sweet that he actually had overlooked another accomplishment by a member of county staff that may yield another future economic development announcement.

McCready spoke of the county’s Danny Wilson, who also serves as Executive Director of the Commerce Park.

McCready said just last week, Commerce Park was awarded a $175,000 grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Grant Fund to help pay for grading at the industrial park located near New River Valley Airport for a “potential unnamed client.”

“That is good stuff,” McCready exclaimed.

Other highlights of Sweet’s recap included:

  • Facilitating the funding and construction of a new consolidated middle school.
  • Revamping the county’s budget process and capital investment program, which Sweet said has yielded a true balanced budget and a pay-as-we-go approach to capital project needs that no longer utilizes reserve funds.
  • Launching, with the Industrial Development Authority and the Chamber of Commerce, the new “Pulaski County Is…” initiative that will make marketing of the county internally and externally more consistent.
  • Approval by the Planning and Community Development Department of 1,084 permits, plans and applications.

Sweet said that while 2017 had been a highly productive year, and a banner year for economic development, his team feels confident that 2018 is “going to be an even better, more productive year.”

Among the many plans for 2018 are:

  • Completion and presentation of a 5-Year Financial Forecast for the supervisors to use for planning purposes.
  • Rollout of a new county website.
  • Completion of a comprehensive facilities condition assessment for county and IDA properties, and construction of a capital improvement plan, which he said the board – specifically Draper Supervisor Dean Pratt – has long advocated.
  • Presentation and implementation of a new county personnel policy handbook.
  • Transitioning the IDA into an Economic Development Authority (EDA).
  • Completion of the courthouse building renovation.
  • Advancement of the New River Trail Extension project and the New River Park/Trail in Fairlawn.
  • Establishment of a fire inspector/investigator program to assist the county’s volunteer fire departments.
  • Establishment of a regular meeting schedule with the county’s town partners.

“I’m confident in our budget process that we can lay out a plan to get most of these things done, or all,” Sweet said.

He noted that before he could even present his 2017 report to supervisors, the county had already enjoyed its first new jobs announcement of 2018 with the news last week that Newcan is bringing 40 new jobs to Pulaski, as well as $4 million in new capital investment.

By MIKE WILLIAMS, The Patriot

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