WINCHESTER — The city’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) has recommended City Council create a second Technology Zone in Winchester to give tax breaks to qualified businesses.
Winchester’s first Technology Zone — which was the first in Virginia —was created on Jan. 1, 1997, in Old Town to attract technology companies such as software developers and firms that host online services.
Winchester Development Services Director Shawn Hershberger said eligible businesses that locate in a Technology Zone can receive tax breaks that reduce their overall operating expenses.
“The second Technology Zone being proposed is in the Valley Avenue, West Jubal Early Drive and Weems Lane area,” Hershberger said following Tuesday morning’s monthly EDA meeting.
He noted that area is prime for small and upstart technology companies because there is a good deal of available office space in that corridor. There are already some small technology firms there “and we’ve actually had some interest from outside firms as well. ... It’s just providing another reason for businesses to consider Winchester.”
The timing couldn’t be better, Hershberger said. Many companies that would qualify for Technology Zone incentives are currently shopping for smaller offices because employees that worked from home during COVID-19 have shown little interest in returning to an office environment. That means larger technology companies no longer need as much space for desks and work stations, and corporate headquarters are free to move out of large, expensive urban areas without fear of losing staff due to a longer commute.
The EDA’s unanimous vote to recommend creation of a second Technology Zone was forwarded on Tuesday to Winchester’s Planning and Economic Development Committee for further review. Once the committee attaches its recommendation, the matter will be presented to City Council for final approval.
Attending Tuesday morning’s EDA meeting in Rouss City Hall were Chairman Jeff Buettner and members Tim Painter, Addie Lingle, Lauri Bridgeforth, Cary Craig, James Imoh and Doug Toan.