Program has been a boon elsewhere in Virginia

Published 8:52 am Wednesday, December 9, 2009

FRANKLIN—When the City of Franklin and Southampton County host enterprise zones next year, they will join a list totaling 55 communities in the state benefiting from the program.

“It has been a large asset in terms of helping us attract companies,” said Keith Taylor, the economic development director for James City County. He cited Wal-Mart, Haynes Furniture and Service Metal Fabricators as examples.

According to Taylor, Wal-Mart built a 3-million-square-foot import distribution center in James City due to the enterprise zone, while Haynes constructed a regional distribution facility there.

“I think it made a difference in our ability to attract many of these companies,” Taylor said Tuesday.

Companies also benefit from expanding their existing facilities in an enterprise zone. Ball Container Corp., which manufactures aluminum cans, expanded their factory in James City, Taylor said.

Across the state, Mecklenburg County shares one enterprise zone with the Town of Clarksville, another with the Town of La Crosse, and has a sub-zone that covers part of the Town of Chase City.

“It’s helped us attract larger industries, due to the incentives that are available to offer within an enterprise zone,” said Angie Kellett, Mecklenburg’s Director of Economic Development. “We were also able to attract several smaller industries that were able to use the job grants.”

Kellett cited EDS, Burlington Industries and Russell Stover Candies Inc. as examples of three large employers that ultimately came to Mecklenburg through the enterprise zones, although Burlington and Russell Stover have since closed.

“We wouldn’t have been able to compete (without them),” Kellett said of the zone designations. “They’re very hard to come by now, (but) they’re definitely a door opener for a community. You will get more looks if you can offer those benefits.”

Patsy Vaughan — who serves as the Development Director for the Industrial Development Authority Board of Halifax County, and is also the administrator of that locality’s enterprise zone — said Tuesday that the zone, and its benefits, doesn’t tell the whole story.

“We’ve definitely benefited,” Vaughan said. “There are many things companies look at when locating. Incentives do make a difference, but I don’t know that we had a location just because of enterprise zone incentives. It was probably more a combination of state and local incentives, as well as other local advantages — such as the cost of labor, business climate, and the product that we have, buildings and sites ready for development.”