By Taylor Boyd
Bryce Simmons, director of Patrick County’s economic development efforts, announced that he will step down to assume the Stuart Town Manager position.
Simmons, who currently serves as the county’s economic development director, told members of the Patrick County Economic Development Authority (EDA), that his final day with the county will be Aug. 27.
Simmons said he is thankful to the EDA for guiding him through the last two years and the experience he’s gained along the way.
“I want you to know I’m not going far, and I hope that we can work together in the future,” Simmons said.
Simmons, who along with the Broadband Committee, has been at the helm of the effort to increase access in the county, also offered a report on the continued effort.
In addition to the project presented by RiverStreet Networks on July 26 (see related story), Simmons said Patrick County has an opportunity to join a regional project proposed by RiverStreet.
Currently Franklin, Pittsylvania, Charlotte, and Campbell counties are included in the project.
Simmons said RiverStreet plans to use money from the Rural Digital Opportunity (RDOF) as leverage for a 2022 Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI) grant application.
“That’s basically to be a part of the regional application, they provided a level of local match to complete the project for the RDOF blocs that were received in Patrick County along with the SpaceX blocs,” he said.
The state currently prefers big projects and are weighing regional projects much more favorably than individual county projects.
“It’s because they are able to do more and allocate more funding to these regional projects then they are sort of piecemeal county by county,” he said.
Simmons said with the level of funding available at the state and federal levels, anywhere between 80 and 85 percent of projects costs could be covered by those funds.
“And any other funding that is out there at this point, we are going to be looking at paying 50 to 70 (percent). 50 percent is basically the best we will probably get if these programs are not used at this time,” he said.
If Patrick County chooses to not participate in the regional application, the county still can apply for funding.
“It is in the county and the board of supervisors’ hands on whether they choose to be part of that regional application or not,” Simmons added.
Glenn Roycroft, member of the EDA board, said broadband is a critical and sensitive project for the county.
“It is my sincere hope that the board of supervisors and county administration carries this thing forward,” he said.
In other matters, the EDA:
*Approved the financial report and paid the bills.
*Voted to renew the line of credit with Blue Ridge Bank.