An aerial view of the Lakeside Commerce Park located near the Town of Clarksville Virginia

Microsoft Corporation has purchased all or most of the land in three industrial parks located in Mecklenburg County — Hillcrest Industrial Park in South Hill, Roanoke River Regional Business Park located between La Crosse and Brodnax, and Lakeside Commerce Park near Clarksville.

All three land transfers occurred in the past week.

Details are scant on the transactions, through which Microsoft Corporation acquired nearly 900 acres of land from five local economic development entities — the Mecklenburg County IDA, Brunswick County IDA, Town of Clarksville EDA, Chase City EDA and the Town of South Hill.

Five counties have been awarded a total of $502,491 in grant funding for fast-tracking broadband from the Commonwealth of Virginia as part of the federal CARES Act. Amelia, Buckingham, Cumberland, Lunenburg, and Nottoway counties have each been awarded $85,000.

The Commonwealth Regional Council (CRC) assisted all five counties in submitting the applications. The project, in partnership with Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corp (MBC), will improve broadband in these counties. MBC will partner with existing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in each county to expand broadband services to target areas. The project will benefit approximately 2,445 households and 400 businesses.

The national credit rating agencies have assigned new credit ratings to the City of Emporia for the first time since 1995.

S&P Global Ratings has assigned a ‘AA-‘credit rating, which is in the very strong category, based on its assessment of the strength of the City’s finances, management, economy and overall debt burden. Moody’s Investors Service has assigned a ‘Aa1’ enhanced rating which is based on the Virginia Localities Intercept Program and based on the Commonwealth of Virginia’s rating.

Gatherings limited to 25 people starting midnight Sunday, masks required for ages 5 and up

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Friday that the state will enforce new restrictions to prevent further spread of COVID-19 starting at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 16, including limiting gatherings to 25 people — down from a current cap of 250 people. Also, all people ages 5 and older will be required to wear face masks in indoor public spaces, a change from a limit on people ages 10 and up.

Enforcement of social distancing, mask wearing and cleaning at grocery stores, pharmacies and other essential retail businesses will be increased, with violations leading to possible Class 1 misdemeanor charges, and there will be an on-site alcohol curfew of 10 p.m. for all businesses that serve drinks.

The 25-person limit on gatherings does not affect Virginia’s theme parks, which are limited to 1,000 patrons under Phase Three of Northam’s reopening plan. According to a spokesperson from Busch Gardens, the new orders pertain only to “small gatherings like parties, weddings. We continue to enforce our mask and social distancing policy, plus temperature checks for all guests and ambassadors,” Cindy Sarko said in an email Friday. Both Busch Gardens and Kings Dominion have announced plans for holiday-themed events.

~ Eligibility criteria expanded to include businesses that received federal CARES Act funds, supply chain partners affected by closures ~

Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Rebuild VA, the $70 million economic recovery fund launched in August, is expanding its eligibility criteria to allow more small businesses to apply. Businesses that received funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and supply chain partners of businesses whose normal operations were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic are now eligible to receive grants of up to $10,000. Businesses that have received federal funds must certify that they will only use the Rebuild VA grant for recurring expenses and that the grant will not be used to cover the same expenses as the other CARES Act funds.

This round is set to put $200,000 directly into the hands of local businesses

On Thursday, Aug 6th, Mecklenburg County’s CARES Act Committee approved a request by the County’s Tourism Coordinator, to fund a second round of the Gift Card Match Program at $100,000. The program, first launched in May of this year, is designed to support small businesses impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic by offering a dollar-for-dollar match on gift cards purchased through the online store to any for-profit, locally-owned, non-franchise, retail, restaurant or service-based business located in Mecklenburg County.

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