Hamilton’s $150K agreement with technology park to help create jobs

Hamilton is using an economic development agreement worth $150,000 in grant money to create jobs at Vora Technology Park.

The city has been in discussions with representatives of the facility regarding the agreement for the past couple of months, according to Jody Gunderson, the city’s economic development director.

The agreement provides various economic development incentives to assist in the expansion project, which will allow Vora to retain and expand employment opportunities at the 366,000-square-foot building on a 55-acre campus at 101 Knightsbridge Drive

Project guidelines stipulate the expansion of the facility will result in 10 full-time jobs at the facility, one for each $15,000 worth of grant money.

The $150,000 recoverable grant, which will encourage and facilitate development opportunities, may be used toward the purchase of machinery, furniture and fixtures, equipment, or other eligible economic development expenses at the facility.

“We approached them much like we do any other business, trying to see what can do, what role we can play in order for us to enhance their ability to attract companies to the building,” Gunderson said.

There will be no fiscal impact to the city’s general fund, as the source of the grant money is from CDBG funds to be specially used for economic development projects, he said.

Under the agreement, a full-time employee means someone compensated for at least 35 hours per week.

The company has 12 months to create and maintain 10 full-time jobs, with at least six of them hired or made available to employees from low- and moderate-income households with below 80 percent of median income.

If 10 full-time jobs are not maintained for 12 months, the recoverable grant will be reduced by $15,000 per full-time job maintained at the end of the 12-month period and the remaining balance of the recoverable grant will be owed to Hamilton by Vora within 60 days.

The agreement also stipulates that Vora agrees to use its best efforts to hire Hamilton residents.

The technology park has about half a dozen companies six or seven companies but “a lot of empty space.”

“We’ve got a lot of things working that may reduce that vacancy rate,” Gunderson said.

Opened in 2005, the park offers “Class A office space, a secure state-of-the-art data center, and a professional incubator wing for the use of both established and burgeoning high-technology companies,” according to the company’s website.

Vora Technology Park holds promise for the city because there are “very few facilities that can offer what they can,” Gunderson said.

“They’ve got two separate power companies that are providing a feed to the facility and they also have back up generation, which makes them a very attractive building,” he said.

Other draws are the availability of “green” energy is a major draw and what CEO and founder Mahendra Vora has done with the facility, Gunderson said.

“We just see that as being a tremendous asset for the community,” he said. “I see that as really getting significantly traction. The only thing that stopped that from taking off sooner was the slowed economy. I think that the potential has always been there.”

It helps that those running the facility are “very aggressive, well connected and innovative,” Gunderson said.

“They’re always looking for different ways of doing things and, as such, are always going to be people who are sought out by companies,” he said.

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