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Enterprise zone renewed

Governor Ralph S. Northam announced Monday, Dec. 23, the five-year renewal of 15 Virginia Enterprise Zone (VEZ) designations, including the one containing Prince Edward County.

Ralph S. Northam

According to a release pertaining to the renewal, businesses that locate in enterprise zones are eligible to receive state and local benefits. The VEZ program, the release cited, is a partnership between state and local government that encourages economic development through job creation and private investment.

Prince Edward County, located in VEZ 48 with Charlotte and Lunenburg counties, was designated as an enterprise zone in 2000. The release cites that legislation passed by the General Assembly in 2019 allows zones designated prior to 2005 to request one five-year renewal.

During her presentation to the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors in November, Prince Edward County Economic Development Director Kate Pickett Eggleston mentioned that the county had submitted its renewal letter, and she also passed out enterprise zone maps to the supervisors prior to her presentation to aid in their understanding of her next, related topic.

Kate Pickett Eggleston

“We are hoping to do a boundary amendment to our enterprise zone area next year,” she said. “The reason I passed out the maps to you all is because I could really use your help. If you know any businesses in your district who may be looking to expand, add jobs, add new additions to their buildings, … we can look to see if they’re currently in the enterprise zone, and if they’re not, we may be able to put them in with that boundary amendment so that they can receive the state grant funding for those changes that they’re making and those jobs that they’re adding to their companies.”

In a brief Thursday, Dec. 26 interview, Eggleston confirmed that a boundary amendment is still a work in progress and has not been submitted yet.

The release pertaining to the renewal stated that the VEZ program has generated more than $1.5 billion in investment and the creation of 50,000 jobs in designated zones since 2015.

“The VEZ program is one of our most valuable tools for supporting local economic growth,” Northam said in the release. “Providing state and local incentives for new investments and higher-wage jobs makes these communities more competitive when a business is deciding where to locate or whether to expand in our commonwealth.”

The VEZ program, according to the release, is administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. The program supports job creation and private investment by providing both state and local incentives, such as the Real Property Investment Grant (RPIG) and the Job Creation Grant (JCG). The release cited that businesses can earn up to $200,000 in RPIGs during a five-year period and up to $800 in JCGs per position, per year over a five-year period, depending on the wages offered.

Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball stated in the release that the VEZ program attracts many investments to Virginia’s localities.

“In the last five years, firms receiving VEZ incentives in the 15 renewed zones created 354 net new jobs and invested over $63 million in real estate improvements, and there is more investment to come with the renewal of the zones,” he said in the release.

The release highlighted that recommendations for the 15 zone renewals are based on the continued need for such a zone, the effectiveness of each enterprise zone in creating jobs and providing capital investment incentives, and the individual locality’s performance of enterprise zone responsibilities.

Additional information about the program is available at dhcd.virginia.gov/vez.