IOW won’t be added to enterprise zone until at least 2011

Published 10:54 am Saturday, March 6, 2010

FRANKLIN—A portion of Isle of Wight County will not be added to the enterprise zone in neighboring Franklin and Southampton County until at least 2011.

Isle of Wight County Supervisor Phillip Bradshaw said Gov. Bob McDonnell and unspecified legal counsel advised him that the best way for getting a 6.37-square mile area of southern Isle of Wight, which includes the International Paper Co. mill, added to the Franklin-Southampton zone would be through legislation.

“We will be added in during the next legislative session,” Bradshaw, who represents the Carrsville District, said Friday. “I was hoping that the governor would be able to do that through an administrative process, but through some legal counsel and due to some actions that had happened (under Gov. Tim Kaine), it created some problems. They are requesting that we go through the legislative process.”

Bradshaw said he didn’t know the nature of any issues from the Kaine administration that would have interfered with getting the designation earlier.

“I’m not disappointed,” Bradshaw said. “I’m still very optimistic about it. We’ve already started the process with the paperwork and consulted with our delegation (to the General Assembly). We’ll have our paperwork submitted before November.”

Bradshaw said the 2011 legislative session begins on Jan. 11.

The enterprise zones are administered through the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Localities are required to offer incentives, in addition to those offered by the state.

“I believe adding Isle of Wight to the Franklin-Southampton join enterprise zone will make the entire region more attractive to new economic opportunities,” McDonnell wrote Bradshaw in a letter dated Feb. 22. “If legislation is required, DHCD will be ready to assist you and your delegation with that for the 2011 session.”

Last month Bradshaw won the support of McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Secretary of Commerce and Trade Jim Cheng for having the portion of Isle of Wight added to the Franklin-Southampton enterprise zone. Franklin and Southampton officials also back the addition.

According to Bradshaw, DHCD told local economic development officials that Isle of Wight could not be added to the enterprise zones because the county did not qualify for the designation, and had not applied for it either. The deadline to apply had passed before the Oct. 22 announcement that IP would close the mill.

A 1986 agreement between Franklin and Isle of Wight County guarantees the city a percentage of tax revenues from the 6.37-square-mile area of southern Isle of Wight. In exchange, the city agreed to never annex the area.

Under the revenue-sharing agreement, Franklin’s percentage is adjusted every 10 years. It currently is 18 percent, according to Bradshaw. Payments to Franklin have averaged about $1.2 million in recent years.

Five geographic areas, two in Southampton and three in Franklin, were designated as enterprise zones by the state last year.

The zones in Southampton County include the Southampton Business Park and the Turner Tract industrial area. Franklin’s zones are the Pretlow Industrial Park, Downtown Franklin and the Armory Drive area. The enterprise zones currently total about 3,544 acres.