Business leaders visit lawmakers
Posted: January 19, 2013
The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — Local business groups are paying close attention to developments in Richmond during the General Assembly session.
A contingent from the Top of Virginia Regional Chamber and Frederick County Industrial Development Authority traveled to the Capitol Thursday to meet with representatives from the Winchester area.
The IDA is seeking legislation that would make Frederick County more business-friendly, said County Administrator John R. Riley Jr. — who also acts as the IDA’s secretary.
For example, the IDA is supporting a bill that would give localities the option to delay the collection of taxes for rezoning until the new use begins on the property.
The rezoning process can be time-consuming for businesses and cost-prohibitive for individual property owners, Riley said.
The idea is to delay the taxes and have properties rezoned and ready to go for businesses seeking a place to move, Riley said.
“That would make it a lot easier for businesses to move here,” he said.
The bill — introduced by Del. Randy Minchew, R-Leesburg — advanced from a House of Delegates finance subcommittee Wednesday by a 10-0 vote, according to the Legislative Information System.
“We’re really pushing for a business-friendly environment,” Riley said.
Possibly the biggest economic- impact item coming out of the General Assembly session — which ends Feb. 23 — is increased transportation funding, said Randy Collins, president and chief executive officer of the Regional Chamber.
Legislators are set to begin a debate soon on Gov. Bob McDonnell’s plan to replace the state’s 17.5-cent gasoline tax with an 0.8 percentage point sales tax increase — along with shifting more current sales tax revenue to transportation and other fee increases.
The chamber hasn’t taken a position on the plan, but Collins said members would like to see something done to increase transportation funding.
“Transportation has always been such a key issue,” he said, noting that local businesses rely on Interstate 81, Millwood Pike (U.S. 50) and Front Royal Pike (U.S. 522).
Collins met with Minchew and Del. Beverly Sherwood, R-Frederick County, who are taking a wait-and-see approach with McDonnell’s transportation proposal.
It remains to be seen how the General Assembly will alter it. But Collins and most chamber members hope more transportation funding is on the way.
“A lot of companies that manufacture here or have warehouses here, in most cases transport their products by truck,” he said.
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