Prince Edward County created some significant momentum for itself in terms of economic development at the end of 2018. Gov. Ralph Northam came to town Dec. 19 to help announce the arrival of YakAttack LLC, which involves a $3.4 million investment and is expected to bring at least 34 new jobs to the county.
In advance of the announcement, secrecy surrounded what exactly Northam was going to be sharing, but the invitation sent out made clear it was going to be an economic development announcement. It was certainly one of the biggest in a while for Prince Edward County.
Consequently, it would be a real shame if the county is unable to sustain this momentum.
County Administrator Wade Bartlett said at the county board of supervisors’ meeting Dec. 11 that as of right now, Prince Edward’s state Enterprise Zone (EZ) designation “will not be renewed, which would be a major blow for our economic development efforts.”
The designation expires Dec. 31, 2019.
The summary in the board meeting packet stated that the state EZ program “has been the single most effective state program the county has, incentivizing both local companies and new companies to locate in Prince Edward County.”
“Many localities that have these designations really don’t use it,” Bartlett said. “We have used it.”
The board meeting packet noted how the county had received the EZ designation from the Department of Housing and Community Development in 2000 for a 20-year period, but over the last 19 years, the regulations governing the EZ program have changed, limiting the number of Enterprise Zones in Virginia to 30. The packet pointed to this number and the length of time a locality can have the EZ designation as appearing to be arbitrary and not based on need. It also noted how Prince Edward embodies all three distress factors that the state code lists that play a significant role in making localities part of the program.
Thankfully, Prince Edward County supervisors voted unanimously to take steps in an effort to save the county’s state EZ designation. Hopefully they will be successful. Let’s keep the economic development momentum rolling!
TITUS MOHLER is the sports editor for The Farmville Herald and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. His email address is Titus.Mohler@FarmvilleHerald.com.