A clarification on Isle of Wight’s policy on recruiting businesses

Published 12:12 pm Saturday, July 11, 2009

Recently, concerns have been expressed that there is an unfair bias toward the recruitment of new businesses (such as Wal-Mart) to Isle of Wight County.

This belief may be fueled by misunderstandings about the County’s Economic Development Incentive Policy adopted by the Board of Supervisors in 1997 (amended in 2002). The purpose of the Incentive Policy is to foster and stimulate economic development by inducing new businesses to locate in the county and existing businesses to remain in the county or to expand their operations.

The Incentive Policy is geared toward industrial prospects. The county does not and will not offer incentives to retail establishments. “Big box” retail operations like Wal-Mart do not meet the criteria for incentives under the county’s policy. The policy focuses on industrial businesses or prospects that are classified in one of the following categories:

* Agriculture forestry and fishing;

* Construction;

* Manufacturing;

* Transportation, communications, electric, gas and sanitary services; and,

* Wholesale trade

In addition, the business must agree to meet very specific benchmarks that address matters such employment and overall average wage requirements (minimum of $13 per hour). Additionally, direct tax revenues received from the company must exceed the amount of incentives provided within a 36 month period.

The Incentive Policy is one of many tools employed by the County to proactively stimulate economic development; however, there is a delicate balance between promoting economic development and maintaining the rural character of the community. This balance takes a great deal of vision and planning.

The vision for the county is made clear in its Comprehensive Land-use Plan with an emphasis on preservation of its rural roots while simultaneously designating specified areas for growth (Development Service Districts). The Route 58 corridor in Southern Isle of Wight County is one of the areas garnering specific attention because of its need for revitalization and diversification.

The county will introduce an aggressive plan for the future that addresses residential growth as well as important industrial and retail centers such as the Airway Shopping Center.

The current owners of the Airway Shopping Center have made an investment in the community, but more residential growth is needed to attract additional retail investment in Southern Isle of Wight County.

With input from the county’s residents, the Board of Supervisors and county staff will be fine-tuning plans for the Route 58 Corridor that will maintain the delicate balance between economic development interests and the quality of life of residents.

You are invited to be a full participant in the process by attending and participating in the public hearings relative to the Route 58 Corridor.