Legislation appears promising

Published 8:44 pm Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It looks as if our state lawmakers are looking out for us.

State senators 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.

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If either bill is eventually 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 defunct 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.

McDonnell, who has touted his commitment to doing things that provide jobs for Virginia, should waste little time signing whichever of these bills makes it to his desk.

– The Tidewater News