Zone changes sought

Published 11:13 am Wednesday, October 27, 2010



FRANKLIN—The Franklin City Council and the Southampton County Board of Supervisors on Monday agreed to seek state permission to amend the boundaries of areas where companies would receive incentives to create jobs.

A 593-acre area in Boykins was approved for proposed inclusion in what’s known as an Enterprise Zone. The county’s other Enterprise Zones include the 558 acres around Southampton Business Park, and 2,261 acres for the Turner Tract industrial area.

In Franklin, the City Council OK’d enlarging its three enterprise zones, Pretlow Industrial Park, downtown Franklin and the Armory Drive area.

Under the proposed changes, the Pretlow zone would be expanded to 360 acres, the downtown zone to 103 acres and Armory Drive to 413 acres. The zones are currently 300, 79 and 346 acres, respectively.

The county and the city also agreed to ask the state to make it easier for companies to receive incentives if they build in any of the enterprise zones.

“We want to lower the qualifications so smaller companies looking to locate here can apply,” Tommy Miller, business development manager for Franklin Southampton Economic Development, told supervisors.

Should a developer buy a county-owned property listed for $10 to $15 million, that developer would get a $5,000 per acre discount.

During year one, a developer could get a 50 percent discount on utility taxes, assuming he makes improvements valued at $150,000 and employs five or more people. Under the previous agreement, the minimum spent had to be $500,000. In Franklin, companies could also be eligible for a 10 percent rebate on annual electric rates not to exceed a period of 10 years and not to exceed $20,000 per year.

The enterprise zone and incentive amendments are not official until the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development approves the application.