BOS Seeks New Enterprise Zone Designation for Duffield, GC, WC
View a draft of Scott County, VA Tax Grants for Qualifying Businesses
Lisa Watson McCarty
County supervisors agreed to apply for a new Enterprise Zone designation as the current designation is set to expire at year's end.
At last week's public hearing on the subject, the board voted unanimously to seek a new designation that would cover areas not only in Duffield, but also portions of Gate City and Weber City.
"It is unfortunate that the Enterprise Zone will expire at the end of this year but that gives us an opportunity to make some improvements on the present zone," explained John Kilgore Jr., Scott County Economic Development Authority Director.
At the September meeting of the Scott County Board of Supervisors, most officials learned for the first time that the county's designation would be gone by Dec. 31 due to changing requirements of the program in terms of using state incentives.
County Administrator Kathie Noe said that other areas had lost their designation and had been able to secure a new Enterprise Zone through a successful application.
The previous zone was 6.3 square miles around the Duffield area, which included parts of a residential area - a requirement forced on localities by the Department of Housing and Community Development in the 1990s.
Kilgore said the new zones includes 1.81 square miles in Duffield, .84 square miles along Highway 23 in Gate City and Weber City and the county-owned Riverside Development property, formerly known as the Bray property. It also covers the former Foote Mineral property near Duffield.
"They also like to include buildings that could be rehabilitated into a new business and one of those on that route is the former Food City building in Weber City and you have some [buildings] in Gate City that is included in that," he added. "You still have the card you can play later on - you can add to the zone later but you can't take away from the zone."
If the county's application is approved and accepted by DHCD, then the county could grow its zone to 6 square miles to include other communities of the county. But the first hurdle is to have the new Enterprise Zone designation approved.
Kilgore noted he hoped the county's application would receive favorable approval by DHCD but he couldn't guarantee it would be accepted.
The board also approved incentives for the zone that benefit not only manufacturing firms but also target retail and tourism-based businesses. The new incentives require a lower investment threshold and a smaller number of jobs created in order to receive real estate tax reimbursements.
Incentives for manufacturing, industrial, research, technology and similar businesses require a $1 million investment and must create a minimum of 10 net new jobs to be eligible for the county's incentives.
Because the county's has been designated as a prequalified site for a data center, new incentives have been included in the Enterprise Zone Application specifically for those facilities. Qualifying data centers must create 15 net new jobs and invest $5 million to earn the incentives.
Under the retail and tourism-related business start-ups, qualifying firms that invest $100,000 and create 10 new jobs will receive incentives for five years. Those same businesses who create five new jobs with a $50,000 investment receive incentives for only four years.
Businesses eligible for any of the Enterprise Zone incentives will also be offered waivers on the building permit and zoning fees. In order to be eligible for any incentive under the Enterprise Zone program, employers that pay wages higher than minimum wage.
If a business pays wages that are 2 times higher than the minimum wage, they receive 100 percent of the incentives while those wages paid at least 1.5 times the minimum wage earn an 80 percent reimbursement.
The incentive decreases by 20 percent for each year in the program. Specific details about the incentive program can be found on our website.
Supervisors also agreed at the hearing to allow an office currently home to a custodian at the Scott County Courthouse to be turned over to the commonwealth's attorney. Scott County Public Works Director Bill Dingus explained that the space would be renovated for use by a clerk in the office and would give the office some much needed privacy and safety.
"The cost for this project is insignificant in regards to our other options," Dingus said. "We will have to hire an hourly contractor but that shouldn't be a problem."
The proposal moves the custodian to the opposite side of the courthouse along with an office change for animal and litter control.
Supervisors agreed to temporary waive its regulations for building permits. County Administrator Kathie Noe explained that the current owner of the Brian Center in Weber City had tried to secure a building permit in order to do some renovations but had not paid its real estate taxes.
Earlier this year, the company shut down its operations but its certificate of need remains in effect through the end of the year. She noted the company was using a consultant to find another entity interested in re-opening the facility before its certificate expired.
Because the real estate taxes had not been paid, the county building code official couldn't issue a building permit to the company. Elderberry Nursing Home, Inc. of Lynchburg provided a copy of a check to Noe that had been issued to TACS, the firm that handles the county's delinquent taxes, but the check had not yet cleared the bank.
Dingus noted that the county could withhold an occupancy permit if problems arose from the tax payment.
After much discussion, supervisors agreed to issue a one-time waiver on the building permit requirement, contingent on the check clearing the bank.