An added sales pitch

Published 8:24 am Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Monday’s announcement that the City of Franklin and Southampton County will be designated as Virginia Enterprise Zones next year was the best piece of news to come out of Richmond since the mill closure announcement was made in October.

Now comes the hard part — attracting businesses here.

When the zones take effect next year, companies looking to bring business to the state or region will definitely take notice of Franklin and Southampton. That’s because a variety of benefits, in the form of incentives at both the state and local levels, will be available.

According to the state Department of Housing and Community Development, the enterprise zone program has created more than 39,000 jobs and brought in $800 million in investment. Communities of all sizes, both rural and urban, have benefited from the program since its inception in 1982. Franklin and Southampton could reap their own share of these benefits.

But getting on the list of enterprise zones doesn’t guarantee anything; there are more than 50 other communities in the state that have their own enterprise zones, and we will be in direct competition with most of them.

We are thankful for the designation and believe it will help level the playing field for competing to attract businesses. But we urge our community leaders to remain vigilant and ready to “sell” our area to prospective companies. We think it will be an easy sale to make, considering all that our area has to offer.