Legislation looks promising

Published 8:24 am Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It looks like our state lawmakers are looking out for us.

State Sens. Fred Quayle, R-Suffolk, and Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, sponsored a bill to expand a program into Isle of Wight County that would provide incentives for new businesses.

Delegates Bill Barlow, D-Smithfield, and Roslyn Tyler, D-Jarratt, introduced the same bill in the House.

If either gets through the House or Senate and is signed into law by Gov. Bob McDonnell, it would expand a joint Enterprise Zone in Franklin and Southampton County to include a 6.37-square-mile area of southern Isle of Wight County. This is significant in that it will help market that area, which includes the dormant International Paper Co. campus.

Isle of Wight County officials are optimistic that one of the bills will become law, which could help the region get back some of the 1,100 jobs lost by the closing of IP last year.

Enterprise zones use state and local incentives to help stimulate job creation and private investment in designated areas.

Expanding the Enterprise Zone could also help IP, which hopes to find another use for the mill. The Memphis-based company has groups interested in using the mill for the production of wood pellets, lumber, fluff pulp, ethanol, biomass power generation and bio-diesel production.

So let’s keep our fingers crossed that one of these bills gets to the governor’s desk.