Bradshaw: Enterprise zone top priority

Published 11:10 am Saturday, September 25, 2010

ISLE OF WIGHT—Expanding a program into Isle of Wight County that would provide incentives for new businesses should be the county’s top legislative priority in the 2011 General Assembly session, said Board of Supervisors Chairman Phillip Bradshaw.

Franklin and Southampton County were granted a joint enterprise zone designation effective this year, and Isle of Wight officials have been pushing to have the zone expanded to include a 6.37-square mile area of southern Isle of Wight to help market that area, including the International Paper Co. campus.

Enterprise zones use state and local incentives to help stimulate job creation and private investment in designated areas. The current enterprise zone designation includes Southampton County’s Southampton Business Park and the Turner Tract industrial. In Franklin, the zone includes the Pretlow Industrial Park, Downtown Franklin and the Armory Drive area.

Gov. Bob McDonnell and other state officials have indicated they support adding the county to the zone, but the county has been advised the best way to get the area added to the enterprise zone is through legislation in the General Assembly.

Lisa Perry, the county’s economic development director, said her office has been working with the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, which administers the enterprise zones. She said the language of the bill is being finalized and her office is in the process of reaching out to state representatives.

“There will be multiple champions backing this bill,” Perry said. County spokesman Don Robertson said state Sens. Fred

Quayle, R-Suffolk, and Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, have agreed to sponsor the bill and he expects Delegates Bill Barlow, D-Smithfield, and Roslyn Tyler, D-Jarratt, to follow suit.

“We feel confident that we are going to have success in that regard,” Robertson said.

The 2011 General Assembly session begins Jan. 12.