Things looking up for Isle of Wight County

Published 9:20 am Friday, February 11, 2011

by Stan Clark

Last Thursday, Isle of Wight Supervisor Chairman Tom Wright and I along with county staff were in Richmond chiefly to lobby against tolls on the James River Bridge and for a workforce center in Windsor, and for fewer education and law enforcement cuts.

Gov. Bob McDonnell addressed us during the Virginia Association of Counties and Virginia Municipal League Legislative Day.

McDonnell advised that the Commonwealth of Virginia had 9 percent growth in revenue over the last two months and that Virginia created 65,000 jobs last year, which put us fourth in the nation in job growth. He also said Virginia finished 2010 with a budget surplus when most states were in the red.

In Isle of Wight County, Commissioner of Revenue Gerald Gwaltney reports that our fiscal year-to-date revenues are about $375,000 above the forecast. Fourth quarter foreclosures in Isle of Wight fell about four percentage points from 10.9 to 6.8, which is the lowest rate in the last five quarters, and new home starts are all level.

Isle of Wight lodging and meals taxes are up, which means that new businesses like K-9 Interdiction and existing businesses like Smithfield Foods are bringing people to the county and housing starts are level.

Adm. Craig Quigley of Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities advises that the U.S. Joint Forces Command in Suffolk will not be hurt as badly as we thought, so hopefully Isle of Wight County residents who work there will retain their jobs. It was announced Wednesday that about a quarter of the jobs, or 500, will be eliminated. Initially, it was feared that all jobs would be lost. Also because of the efforts of this Board of Supervisors and other local elected officials, the Southeastern Public Services Authority has sold its waste energy plant, and the tipping fees have come down over the last few months from $175 per ton to $145 per ton.

Additionally, Isle of Wight County asked state Delegate Bill Barlow, D-Smithfield, and Sen. Fred Quayle, R-Suffolk, to put in bills to let Isle of Wight join the Southampton County Franklin Enterprise Zone and a bill to allow the Virginia Department of Transportation to deed Isle of Wight County the surplus VDOT property at Walters. Both of these bills have been reported out of committee unanimously.

All state and county signs point to slow but steady economic recovery, and both governing bodies are very conservative and business friendly. Businesses continue to look at Isle of Wight County for investment and relocation because of the infrastructure, land and water that is available near rail lines and major thoroughfares.

Isle of Wight County is poised along with Gov. McDonnell to create jobs and economic recovery.

STAN D. CLARK of Carrollton represents the Newport District on the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors. He can be reached at