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City of Danville officials on Wednesday pledged their continued commitment to the economic development partnership with Pittsylvania County that has led to joint operation of a business incubator and three industrial parks and cooperation on numerous expansions of existing businesses and recruitment of new industries.
The pledge comes following a vote Monday night by the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors to reorganize its economic development operation by eliminating its economic development office and transferring duties to County Administrator Dan Sleeper and Assistant County Administrator Greg Sides.
“We are determined to keep and strengthen the vital partnership that we have with the county,” Mayor Sherman Saunders said on Wednesday. “It is critical that we continue to do so.”
Toward that goal, City Manager Joe King said Wednesday he has spoken with Sleeper since the board’s decision. King said he assured Sleeper that the city would assist the county as needed during its transition.
“As the county moves forward in its reorganization, it will have no effect on our commitment to work together in helping businesses here to expand and in bringing new industries to this area,” King said.
Jeremy Stratton, director of the Danville Office of Economic Development, agreed, saying, “We have communicated directly to the state that we are open for business and are still working closely with Pittsylvania County on marketing and recruiting new companies to the region.”
The city and country have worked together on numerous economic development initiatives, including recent efforts to lure GOK International and other prospective Chinese manufacturers to the area. GOK International is a Chinese furniture maker that recently established a sales and headquarters office in Danville on Bridge Street and is in the process of setting up furniture assembling and distribution operations in the Cane Creek Industrial Park. The industrial park is jointly operated by the city and county.
The partnership between the two localities officially began 12 years ago with the formation of the Dan River Business Development Center. The center is a business incubator located off Kentuck Road in the county, and just a short distance from the Danville city limits.
Since then, Danville and Pittsylvania County have formed the Regional Industrial Development Authority to develop and operate joint industrial parks. RIFA currently oversees three industrial parks, including the Cane Creek Industrial Park. In addition, RIFA operates the Cyber Park in Danville and the 3,500-acre Mega Park in southwestern Pittsylvania County.
Danville Utilities, which is owned and operated by the city of Danville, provides electric service to the southern third of Pittsylvania County, and it therefore plays a key role in economic development operations in the county.