Bolling: Virginia businesses growing; incentives help promote growth
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Virginia Statehouse News
RICHMOND - Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling on Thursday announced that existing businesses in Virginia grew 75 percent to 80 percent in the past 14 months - putting the state fourth in the nation for new job creation.
"We feel great about where we are. We just have to keep up that momentum," Bolling said. "I mean fourth is great, but being number one would be better."
Bolling and Gov. Bob McDonnell, in a joint statement issued Thursday, said that state unemployment fell to 6.5 percent in January, the lowest level since March 2009.
The lieutenant governor made the announcements while speaking at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership board meeting. He noted that the VEDP came out ahead during the just-completed legislative session with the creation of several new tax credit programs that he said will help with business recruitment.
The partnership was granted an additional $34 million in funding from the General Assembly - $10 million less than it was seeking - from McDonnell's "Opportunity to Work" initiative, a spending package intended to generate economic development and jobs during the next two years.
McDonnell has put job creation at the top of his agenda, and with the VEDP, works to stimulate current businesses to expand within Virginia and to entice new businesses to move their headquarters or plants to the Commonwealth.
James Ukrop, VEDP board member and chairman of First Market Bank, spoke about localities and districts becoming more unified and working together to help economic development in their regions.
"One thing I think that holds us back is thinking of ourselves as 19 different planning districts. But as 19 different regional groups that work together, it would help us become more competitive as we go forth in the future," said Ukrop.
Bolling said the state is trying to do that by offering incentives to localities to work together.
He mentioned several counties in southwest Virginia, including Patrick, Henry and Pittsylvania counties, that were given $200,000 to work together as a region to develop a regional marketing strategy. He said the results were positive and that the $200,000 has been increased to $600,000.
Another way to bring businesses into Virginia is through universities, Bolling said. As a part of the Governor's Higher Education Initiative, $70 million was approved by the Legislature, with $10 million of that going to provide an incentive for universities to work with businesses to create commercially viable technology.
The money will be divided into two parts, Bolling said. The first half will go to universities to work with businesses in "developing new and emerging technologies to getting them to the point of commercialization."
The second half provides funds for universities to bring in "targeted eminent scholars" in key technology sectors.
Dennis Cuneo, a partner in the labor law firm Fischer & Phillips LLC's Washington, D.C., office, was asked by the board to speak about how to make Virginia more interesting to those companies. He said the incentives offered at the start of negotiations matter. Nothing, he said, looks better to a company than upfront loans.
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