Danville looks to restructure enterprise zone for economic development projects

Danville officials hope to redraw the geographic boundaries of an enterprise zone in the city in order to attract more industry.

An enterprise zone is an area where industries can receive state and local incentives for locating there.

Amending the city’s boundaries is a routine process.

“It’s about trying to encourage new economic growth in the areas that need it,” said City Manager Ken Larking.

Danville’s Office of Economic Development wants to change the geographic boundaries in the 1,900-acre enterprise zone throughout the city that includes the Central Business District, Tobacco Warehouse District, Cyber Park, Goodyear Boulevard, Dan River Schoolfield Complex, Riverview Industrial Park and the former Corning Plant.

The city must apply with the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development for approval of the changes, which would include deleting about 51 acres and adding about 70 acres of commercial property with identified development projects in process or in the near future.

“The amendment will allow the city to encourage and incentivize new capital investment and job creation in this developing area of the city,” Kelvin Perry, project manager with the economic development office, wrote in a letter to Danville City Council.

Council will discuss the possible change at its work session Tuesday night.

Virginia’s Enterprise Zone Program is a partnership between state and local governments that encourages job creation and private investment, according to the state housing and community development department web site.

“[The program] accomplishes this by designating enterprise zones throughout the state,” according to the web site.

The state provides two grant-based incentives for industries within those zones — the Job Creation Grant and the Real Property Investment Grant. The locality provides local incentives.

Incentives offered by Danville include reimbursement of water, sewer and natural gas tap fees up to $5,000, and exemption from city permit fees.

Danville has two designated enterprise zones totaling 3,652 acres of commercial, industrial, retail and office spaces.

The city also plans to amend the enterprise zone incentives offered in another zone shared with Pittsylvania County, which totals 1,679 acres and includes the Kentuck corridor, Airside Industrial Park, Gypsum Road Industrial corridor and parts of Cane Creek Centre Industrial Park.

There are no proposed changes to the other zone’s boundaries.

Larking said of the enterprise zones and proposed changes, “We want people to live here and we want people to be able to have jobs. This is a program that helps improve our competitive advantage against other communities that are trying to land these economic development projects.”

Register & Bee – John Crane