An estimated 400 new jobs are expected to be created as businesses move into the $3.2 million business park, Fulton County's first, over the next three to five years.
"I'm surprised that the administration has chosen to veto this particular project because you're talking rural revitalization," said Margaret Taylor, executive director of Franklin Industrial Development Authority.
Three weeks ago, U.S. Rep. Bud Shuster, R-Franklin, announced that the county would receive the grant as part of money from the Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development Act of 1998 through the Environmental Protection Agency.
The money was to be used to install about 45,000 feet of water and sewer pipes to connect the business park - between Cito Road and U.S. 522 - with the municipal water and sewer system.
"Unfortunately, the president used the line-item veto to eliminate this needed funding. Considering the local economic needs in Fulton County and the above-average unemployment rate, this comes as a blow to our efforts to reverse the current trend," said Shuster in a prepared statement.
A $1.027 million grant from the federal Economic Development Administration and the Appalachian Regional Commission awarded to the county in August remains unaffected, Shuster said.
Loss of the $500,000 won't stop the project, but the county's economic development officials will have to come up with additional funding, Taylor said.
Fulton County has applied for $1.5 million from the state's capital budget and will look at other grants from the state Department of Community and Economic Development, Taylor said.
The board might also just attempt to borrow $500,000 more, Bard said.
"We'll put together the best package and see if the banks will buy it," he said.
The park's permitting was expected to be approved and the financing in place by this winter, with the construction project likely to be put out to bid next spring.
Bard said he doesn't know what implications the loss of the grant will have on the project's time line.
In addition to extension of the water and sewer lines, the project calls for interior road construction, including a connector road between Cito Road and U.S. 522, and land acquisition.
Digging and construction won't begin until all of the financing is in place.
Preliminary plans show 25 lots on the site, which will hold businesses, manufacturers, other services and warehouses.
The county has already received nearly that many inquiries this year from companies interested in moving into the business park.