Broadband project leads economic developer’s update

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, July 10, 2024

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Franklin Southampton Economic Development Inc. President and CEO Karl T. Heck provided a key update at the June 25 Southampton County Board of Supervisors’ meeting on the process that is bringing universal access to broadband and high-speed internet in the county.

He also highlighted some other developments that have helped raise the county’s profile.


“The broadband project is moving along,” Heck said during his report to the board. “I actually did see (workers) at the border when I was going out to Danville for an economic development conference a couple weeks ago, so they are working to connect to the main hub in Roanoke Rapids that will service the south and western parts of the county, whereas the north and eastern parts of the county will get their internet through Suffolk. So they have to build that part of the line to get going.”

Heck noted that Eric Collins, a representative from Charter Communications, will be at the board’s July meeting.

“So if people have questions for Charter, he will be here next month presenting to the Board of Supervisors as well,” Heck said.


Next, Heck mentioned that Southampton Veterinary Clinic PC, led by its owner Dr. Wanda B. Bradshaw, held a groundbreaking on June 6 for its new building located at 26364 Delaware Road.

“Their project’s moving along well, and in about nine months we’ll be done,” Heck said. “That’s become a regional draw. Certainly we’ve gotten a lot of comments from people that don’t live in Southampton County that use Dr. Bradshaw’s services, and her expansion will allow a lot more of that to happen.”


Heck then addressed work being done in relation to the Beale Farm, a 202-acre property on Rose Valley Road and General Thomas Highway with 198 acres available for usage. FSEDI is working to improve the property to make it a higher-tier option for location by potential businesses.

“We’re waiting on the Virginia Business Ready Sites Program application for the Beale Farm,” Heck said. “That should be announced in the next couple weeks, so we’re optimistic that we’ll have some money to put into the Beale Farm to do the next phases to get it up the tier levels.”


Highground Services Inc., a Franklin-based business that deals in engineering, automation and electrical construction, was recognized as the Western Hampton Roads Small Business of the Year by the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce at an event on June 21 in Chesapeake.

“We were there last week to celebrate that, and it got a lot of publicity for the region as well,” Heck said.

Another business helping elevate the profile of the area is Agricision Inc., which is located in the Franklin Business Center and is described on its Facebook page as a woman-owned agricultural technology company based in Southampton that was founded by farmers for farmers and aims to help them better manage pests.

“They’re working on laser technology to kill weeds out in the field,” Heck said. “So we like to say, ‘They blow them away,’ but they do that, and their technology is very promising. It was written up in Virginia Business (magazine).”

Heck also noted that prominent local peanut farmer Elisha Barnes was written up in Garden & Gun magazine, “so that got a lot of publicity for the region as well.”


Heck closed his report by mentioning that FSEDI’s Small Business Development Center consultant is back and taking appointments. Heck said appointments can be made at the Franklin Business Center and at other places around the area.

“So if people in the county are interested in starting a business, we can meet with them and have a counselor work with them at any time,” he said.