Help for the county's small businesses

Floyd County’s Economic Development Authority (EDA), invited for the first time to participate in the comprehensive planning process, is looking beyond traditional roles for an economic development entity and working on plans to help existing small businesses. Traditionally, EDAs concentrate on bringing new business to an area. While the EDA still wants to attract new […]

Money, morality and business deals

A long-time local resident, and former member of our county government, sat down at my breakfast table recently. He wanted to talk about the recently-aborted data center deal between Data Knight 365 and Floyd County’s Economic Development Authority (EDA). “Something smells here,” he said. “The county was too eager to make the deal. I’m wondering […]

Checkmate on Data Knight 365

Data Knight 365 (DK3), the data services company that really wasn’t one, defaulted Wednesday on the controversial deal to purchase 51.5 acres of undeveloped land in Floyd County’s Commerce Park for a data center plan that existed only in the grandiose promises of promoters with a questionable track record and the willingness of a government, […]

Data Knight 365 and Floyd County: How much more?

As my story in today’s Floyd Press reports, the county’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) Tuesday approved issuing a formal “final demand for closing” for the twice-aborted sale of 51.5 acres of undeveloped land in the largely-empty Commerce Park on Christiansburg Pike to Data Knight 365 (DK3), a company whose ownership and resources remain in doubt.

What does a “final demand for closing” mean? Can’t say for sure because EDA chairman Jack Russell refused to provide details after the authority met in its third closed-door “executive session” in 34 days to discuss the controversial deal that has generated much debate and more than a few jokes among Floyd County residents.

Russell responded with “I really don’t know” when I asked what the “final demand for closing” entailed. Was there a timetable? Russell refused to answer. Did the EDA set a new deadline after DK3 missed closing dates on Sept. 1 and a previous “final” closing date of Oct. 23? No answer.

I later learned timetables were discussed in the closed-door session. It’s not the first time Russell lied about the activities of the EDA. I doubt it will be the last.

Russell apparently believes the expenditure of county taxpayer dollars is not the business of the public that pays those taxes and bills. The EDA is a group of appointed volunteers with the power to cut multi-million dollar deals involving county property and funds with little or no oversight from the Board of Supervisors, the ones elected to represent the citizens. Because Virginia’s Open Meetings Act allows closed-door discussion on certain real estate deals and legal matters, Russell manipulates the law to assure that much of what the EDA does is hidden from the public — so much so that some EDA members say privately they are worried that they have “pushed the envelope” of the law with some of the discussions and decisions the authority has made in secret.