At their meeting on Thursday, Coweta County Development Authority board members approved hiring Alan Smith Consulting to apply for and manage a $7 million EDGE grant for Freyr Title Resolution.
EDGE is a state fund that helps eligible applicants competing with another state for the location of a project. According to the state website, “… the EDGE Fund is used when the health, welfare, safety and economic security of the citizens of the state are promoted through the development and/or retention of employment opportunities.”
Coweta County was competing with 150 sites in 25 states, said Sarah Jacobs, president of the authority. Ultimately, the county was competing with a site in Arizona, she said.
The applicant of an EDGE grant must be a development authority, Jacobs told the authority board members.
“The state can’t just hand it over to a company,” she said, adding, “It’s been recommended that we use a grant writer.”
Corinna Thornton, of the Department of Community Affairs, said there is a lot of compliance involved with EDGE grants.
“These discretionary grants are recommended by the Department of Economic Development, agreed upon by all state agencies, state partners of the company and the development authority,” Thornton said.
The DCA holds and disburses the funds as the agreement is set up, she said.
“Depending on how the money is used, there might be individual draw requests,” Thornton said. “So, somebody has to process those. That can be a lot of paperwork for a construction project, and then once the construction is complete and the company is up and running, that doesn’t end the obligation for the grants.”
The grant period usually mirrors the agreement, for instance the six years that Freyr has said it expects to create the 700 jobs and the capital investment, she said. During that whole period, someone from the development authority has to report back to the state that all the obligations of the company are being met, Thornton said.
“That’s why we see a lot of different development authorities using grant administrators,” Thornton said.
Thornton said after the meeting that the actions taken at the meeting were near the beginning of the award process. Now that the recommendation of award has been accepted, the DCA will issue a notice of award and the authority will then have to fill out the grant application.
The application will then be reviewed and vetted before the grant is actually awarded, Thornton said.
Smith will charge $12,000 for the application and $9,000 to administer and close out the grant, Jacobs said. The authority will receive a $950,000 bond fee as the grant holder, she added.
Freyr is a Norwegian battery developer that has chosen Coweta County as the site of a new battery manufacturing facility to be called Giga America. The company will invest $2.57 billion into the county and create 700 new jobs over six years. The company announced its plans to settle at the Bridgeport industrial park earlier this month.
Once the DCA has recommended the grant for Freyr, the authority has just 60 days to complete the application, Jacobs said.
The authority members also approved deeding property in Bridgeport industrial park to Freyr for its facility.
In other business board members:
- Approved removing term limits for the chairman of the board.
- Approved a 2023 schedule of meetings. The board will continue to meet each first Thursday of the month at 9 a.m. There is no board meeting in July.
- Held a closed session to discuss personnel.