Today Gov. Kaine announced that Portsmouth, Staunton, Prince George County and Southampton County/City of Franklin (a joint zone) were designated as Virginia Enterprise Zones (VEZ).
In a press released issued today by the Governor’s office, it was explained that
“The Enterprise Zone program is an important economic development tool in bringing investment and jobs to Virginia’s distressed communities,” said Governor Kaine. “With the loss of more than 1,100 jobs in the area due to the closing of International Paper, we believe the Zones will be a valuable tool for attracting new businesses to this area and supporting the expansion of existing businesses.”
The VEZ program was first established in 1982 through passage of the Virginia Enterprise Zone Act. In 2005, the General Assembly passed the Enterprise Zone Grant Act, which transitioned the program from tax credit to grant incentives. Under the 1982 Enterprise Zone Act, a zone was designated for a 20-year period; however, under the 2005 Enterprise Zone Grant Act, zones are designated for an initial 10-year designation period with two five-year renewals and a maximum of 30 zones are allowed. Current zones will be allowed to run out.
The grants are broken into two categories: Enterprise Zone Job Creation and Real Property Investment. Qualified businesses can receive grants for a maximum of 350 jobs created above a four new net job threshold (up to $800/job, based on wages offered); and for businesses making a qualified investment in industrial, commercial or mixed use real property within the zone, grants can reach a maximum $200K, in aggregate, within any five-year period.
Examples of qualified real property investments include Excavation, Paving, Driveways, Landscaping, Painting, Doors, Windows, Roofing, HVAC, Electrical/wiring and Flooring. For a full listing, visit the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.
Furthermore, per the press release:
“The Virginia Enterprise Zone program has been effective in supporting more than $1.5 billion in investment and the creation of more than 42,000 jobs since it was established in 1995,” said DHCD Director Bill Shelton. “These designations will work to incentives new jobs and new investment in these distressed areas of the Commonwealth.”
For more information on how these zones are designated and the criteria used in evaluating zone applicants: