The Loudoun Board of Supervisors forged ahead last week with the county's ongoing effort to implement specific guidelines and determine the funding process for providing economic incentives to companies looking to locate or expand in Loudoun County.
On an 8-1 vote July 17, the board approved the appropriation of $500,000 from the current fiscal year's fund balance for economic development business incentives. Additionally, the board will annually consider funding business incentives with year-end fund balance.
Opposing the vote was Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling), who claimed the move was in line with subsidies and “crony capitalism.”
“It's very seductive. And I understand the siren, you know, the attraction … the allure of not losing to other counties who have these types of things,” Delgaudio said, labeling the incentives subsidies.
Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles) quickly contested Delgaudio's remarks, saying “there's a difference between a subsidy and an incentive.”
“A subsidy is writing a check,” Letourneau said. “An incentive is giving somebody a reason to come here.”
Letourneau and other board members advocated for the measure as an avenue through which Loudoun can compete with other Virginia counties looking to attract new businesses. Landing new industry, Letourneau said, is essential to expanding the county's commercial tax base and, consequently, lowering the county’s' residential tax rate.
“Our competition and other jurisdictions around the nation do often put incentives in place,” Supervisor Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn) said.
Buona, chairman of the board's finance committee, which has studied economic development incentives, pointed out that each specific project eligible for incentives would still have to be approved by the full board.
“We're not spending any money here. What we're doing is taking $500,000 of fund balance and specifically setting it aside as a source should the board decide, going forward, to grant certain incentives,” he said.
According to the county's recently-developed incentive guidelines, companies must meet minimum requirements to be eligible for incentives, including:
-Creating a minimum of 50 new jobs which pay 100 percent of the county's median wage, currently $58,000.
-The company must make a minimum $5 million investment in buildings, land and equipment.
-The company must receive a Virginia Jobs Investment Program grant.
-Loudoun County must be competing with another jurisdiction for the company's final location decision
-The company must be in one of Loudoun's targeted business industries, which include information, communications and technology; aerospace; air cargo; federal government contracting; life sciences; advanced manufacturing; green technology; and destination retail.