Isle of Wight in the zone

Published 9:58 am Wednesday, March 16, 2011


ISLE OF WIGHT—The Virginia House and Senate each passed legislation to expand a program that would offer incentives to new businesses.

Once Gov. Bob McDonnell signs the bills, a joint Enterprise Zone in Franklin and Southampton County could be expanded to include 6.37 square miles in southern Isle of Wight, which includes the closed International Paper mill.

“The last I checked, I don’t think there were any issues in regard to that,” said Isle of Wight County spokesperson Don Robertson. “We’re not quite there. Even after the governor approves the bills, then we have to actually apply for the Enterprise Zone to be expanded with Franklin and Southampton’s agreement, and support it by a resolution.”

“We would be looking at the area in and around International Paper to part of the expanded Enterprise zone,” Robertson added. “This would be beneficial to all three communities.”

IP shut its last paper machine in mid-April. Over 1,100 jobs were eliminated.

Enterprise Zones are defined by the use of local and state incentives to stimulate job creation and investment in specific areas. The area designation includes Franklin’s Pretlow Industrial Park, Downtown Franklin and the Armory Drive area, as well as Southampton’s Business Park and the Turner Tract Industrial Park.

International Paper had announced it’s not expecting to make a decision on a possible future use of its mill until the end of June.

Based in Memphis, Tenn., the company reportedly has groups interested in using the mill for manufacturing ethanol, fluff pulp, lumber, wood pellets, as well as bio-diesel production and biomass power generation.

State Sens. Fred Quayle, R-Suffolk, and Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, sponsored one bill and Delegates Bill Barlow, D-Smithfield, and Roslyn Tyler, D-Jarratt, sponsored the other.