EDA amends Cobham agreement

Published 10:13 pm Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Responding to economic hardships and the uncertainty surrounding future defense spending, the city will give a North Suffolk defense contractor a few extra months to make good on its investment promises.

Suffolk’s Economic Development Authority voted Wednesday to amend the terms of an agreement worth more than $800,000 with Cobham Composite Products.

The EDA in 2010 agreed to provide an Investment Fund Program Grant to the company to convince it to invest about $9 million in a building off Harbour View Boulevard.

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The company’s occupancy of the building was to have occurred in three phases, with the first one already complete and the second and third to complete by January 2013 and January 2016, respectively.

However, because of the uncertainty surrounding the general business environment and especially that for defense contractors in recent years, the company needed an extension on the agreement, said Gregory Byrd, assistant director of economic development.

The deadline for the second phase has now been extended to March 2014. The third phase will be complete in March 2016.

“It’s giving another year for the federal government and Department of Defense to balance out what they’re doing,” Byrd said.

Byrd said the company ultimately expects to occupy the entire building, which is about 168,000 square feet. About 66 new jobs already have been created there, and as many as 198 jobs are expected by the time the third phase is completed.

EDA member Art Collins said he believes the company is in Suffolk for the long haul.

“They put huge investments in there to prepare that shell,” he said. “I don’t think they’re going anywhere.”

In a separate item, the EDA also voted to accept about $45,700 from the Downtown Suffolk Association Inc. for the city’s façade grant program. The nonprofit organization, which pioneered the program giving grants to businesses in certain areas that make certain improvements to the exterior of their buildings, has been inactive for some time now.

The organization decided to turn over its remaining funds to the EDA, which now conducts the grant program.

“It was a pleasant phone call,” Economic Development Director Kevin Hughes said during Wednesday’s meeting, referring to when he found out about the money.

In other business at the meeting, the EDA voted to accept and appropriate $270,000 from the city to pay out an incentive to Ace Hardware for locating in the city.

Another vote extended the lease agreement with Branscome Inc., the contractor on the Nansemond Parkway widening project, for three acres of land in Northgate Commerce Park for the storage of construction materials and a trailer. The lease now ends June 30, 2013 rather than Dec. 31, 2012.