The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners decided Monday to set aside money  for proposed economic development projects. One of them is at a former R.J. Reynolds tobacco plant.

In January, Reynolds donated 120 acres known as Whitaker Park to a new non-profit called the Whitaker Park Development Authority. The Authority comprises several business groups and Wake Forest University.

The goal is to attract companies and create thousands of jobs at the site.

County manager Dudley Watts says Commissioners considered setting aside up to $2.35 million for developing infrastructure at the complex.

“There's been a lot of activity over the past couple of years in planning for this gift from Reynolds American to the community, but setting aside some public dollars for this purpose is significant and it will be helpful to get the donated property and things moving forward.”

Watts says the funding is subject to the county commissioners later approving an agreement to reimburse the Development Authority. A request to the city of Winston-Salem is also in the works.

The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners also approved setting aside money in a reserve to help fund improvements at the Smith Reynolds Airport.

Three projects are in the works, including moving a taxiway that is too close to the runway. Mark Davidson, the airport director, says this is something that will have to be addressed in the coming months.

“The distance is too close and the FAA is really forcing our hands and we aren't going to allow you to continue operating,” says Davidson. “They changed the design standard recently and we have to adhere to what the FAA design standard is. It's no longer 281 feet, it's 400 feet for us.”

The Airport Commission asked the county to reserve up to $1.5 million. It's also seeking grants from the state Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Davidson says the airport commission may not end up using the county money, but it needs to show proof of local support as it applies for grants.

*Follow Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news.

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