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City seeks ‘Enterprise Zone’ designation

MORE: Read more news from Fredericksburg

The city of Fredericksburg is hoping to become a “Virginia Enterprise Zone.”

The designation, through the state, is a partnership between the local and state governments to encourage job growth and private investment.

Newly appointed Assistant Director of Economic Development and Tourism Bill Freehling submitted the application last week after City Council approval.

The program is intended to bolster job growth and investment in specific sectors of a community.

Freehling identified three corridors—downtown Fredericksburg, the Battlefield Industrial Park and Celebrate Virginia South—for the program.

“This could be a significant benefit to businesses in those zones,” he said.

If the city is awarded the designation, businesses in these areas that have wage rates at least 175 percent of the federal minimum wage and offer health benefits will have the opportunity to get grants for job creation.

Those that invest at least $100,000 for rehabilitation or expansion, and/or at least $500,000 for new construction, are eligible for grants in capital investments, new buildings and renovation.

These grants could total up to $200,000 per building project and $800 per job created per year.

Fredericksburg submitted an application for the designation in 2014 and was not successful. However, staff reviewed the application again and looked to successful VEZ programs in Staunton and Roanoke to rework the application.

The governor designated 30 enterprise zones throughout the state, which are good for 10 years.

There are currently five openings due to the expiration of the designation in communities that have been involved for a decade.

The announcement of which localities have been awarded enterprise zone rights will be in September.

Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976


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