Recruiting for industry needs an extra hand

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 14, 2007

We’re about to find out if there truly is strength in numbers.

Southampton County and the City of Franklin are entertaining an intriguing idea that might attract more industry to the area.

Virginia has established something called an Enterprise Zone Program, a partnership between state and local governments in which both parties seek to improve economic conditions within a targeted area.

Franklin Southampton Economic Development Inc., which is heading up the local effort, made presentations to both governments on Aug. 27. The state program, officials learned, calls on local governments to provide incentives that would supplement those offered by the state for communities involved in the Enterprise Zone Program. And the incentives are significant.

A consultant for FSEDI told Southampton’s Board of Supervisors such incentives could include property investment and job creation grants that would piggyback on those offered by the state. Local governments also could offer to waive utility connection, permit and electric fees for companies that choose to locate within a new enterprise zone. They also could provide workforce training, reimbursement of property and machinery and tools taxes or even architectural assistance. Those local incentives would be in addition to the state incentives offered through the program.

In short, industries looking to locate can get a pretty enticing deal. For us, that means job opportunities, not only with the relocating industries, but with ripple-effect businesses that serve the employer.

Both the City Council and the county’s Board of Supervisors agreed to hold separate public hearings at their meetings on Sept. 24.

The public hearings will give citizens a chance to comment on the proposal.

Unless there are any hidden pratfalls, combining forces to recruit new jobs and new taxpayers to this area seems like a logical approach.

It should be given every consideration.