Enterprise zone request approved

Published 8:30 am Thursday, April 11, 2024

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It went down to the wire, but Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin put pen to paper Monday night, signing House Bill 61 hours before the 11:59 p.m. deadline. Why is that important? It’ll keep an economic development tool in the hands of Lunenburg, Charlotte and Prince Edward officials, instead of watching it expire. 

Filed by Del. Thomas C. Wright Jr., R-Victoria, the legislation will allow the counties to seek another renewal of Enterprise Zone No. 48. The program creates a local and state partnership that encourages job creation and private investment, according to the Department of Housing and Community Development. In addition to incentives offered locally, it provides access to job creation and real property investment grants in the designated zones.

So you have this enterprise zone, where incentives and different opportunities can be offered to businesses, covering parts of three counties. The only problem? As it stood, the idea was set to expire at the end of 2024. Officials in the counties were seeking action by lawmakers to allow the zone to be extended for another five years. 

Wright’s legislation allows the governor, with a recommendation from the director of the Department of Housing and Community Development, to renew enterprise zones for up to four five-year renewal periods for zones designated on or after July 1, 2005, and for up to two five-year renewal periods for zones designated before July 1, 2005. 

“Under current law, zones designated on or after July 1, 2005, may be renewed for up to three such periods and zones designated before July 1, 2005, may be renewed for up to one such period,” the bill’s summary explains. 

According to the DHCD guidelines for officials who administer the local zone, the three counties will be considered for another five-year renewal based on the localities’ performance of their “enterprise zone responsibilities, the continued need for such a zone, and its effectiveness in creating jobs and capital investment.” 

The agency notifies the local zone administrators ahead of time to let them know a renewal application is required. 

“In anticipation of the anniversaries of the enterprise zone’s designation renewal, the locality will be asked to submit information through the Centralized Application Management System,” according to the agency. 


The legislation received overwhelming bi-partisan support in both chambers, passing on a unanimous 98-0 vote in the state House and passing the state Senate on a 39-0 vote. It also flew through the committees reviewing it with not a single vote against it. 

Wright crafted the legislation to win broad support by allowing all enterprise zones that would be expiring to be extended for another five years. 

“It’s gonna make all the ones coming up for expiration be covered,” he said previously. “That’s the best thing I think we can do.” 

Wright developed the legislation with help from county administrators Doug Stanley of Prince Edward, Dan Witt of Charlotte and Tracy Gee of Lunenburg. 

The three county officials conferred when posed questions about the legislation and asked Stanley to speak for the regional effort. 

Stanley said they believed all along the governor would “support this bi-partisan bill which will help the three localities in Southside Virginia and others across the state to continue to market our communities for new jobs and tax investment.” 

He said Enterprise Zone No. 48 is an “important economic develop tool that we have in our toolkit” to market and attract investment in the three counties. 

“As argued to the General Assembly, we are already at a competitive disadvantage with our neighbors in more affluent communities,” Stanley said. He explained the counties don’t have adequate resources to recruit companies without the enterprise zone, which helps them bridge “the divide between the haves and have nots.”