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Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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Expanding Technology Zones

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors will discuss expanding the technology zones as much as including the entire primary settlement district.

On April 27 some supervisors thought it might be a good idea to add the Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center area into a technology zone. Supervisors also discussed making the entire large swatch of land called the primary settlement district as a technology zone. Right now, the county has three tech zones, which provides rebates on the BPOL and tools and machinery taxes if the business qualifies. The businesses also get their applications reviewed quicker than other non-qualifying projects.

Although there hasn’t been any huge success story with the technology zohnes yet, outgoing Economic Development Director Russell Seymour says they are good marketing tools for prospective business.

The presentation here doesn’t really provide much detail or information of what it could cost the county in loss business tax revenue if they expand the zones.

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Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/spotsygovt/2010/05/21/expanding-technology-zones/

  • SteveThomas

    The Tech Zones are a great program… they incentivize businesses to come to Spotsy, or expand in Spotsy, by lessening the future tax burden. It doesn’t cost the County anything, since it comes out of future revenue… but it does help bring business to the County, and is a great marketing tool to the county. If you want jobs, these are the kind of innovative programs localities need!

    The Spotsy EDA has been working on this for a while. It makes a lot of sense to help out the hospital by putting a Tech Zone on top of it. It won’t help all businesses located there, but it will help some.

  • http://Z2KS LarryG

    Steve – I am trying to find out why the EDA can be a conduit for lower than market bonds?

    What enables them to do this ?

    thanks!

  • SteveThomas

    Larry- every locality in VA has an EDA, they are established by state statute. The bonds are paid by the company, but they are sold at a lower rate than the corporate bond could be.

    I hope that helps!

    Steve

  • http://Z2KS LarryG

    partly… who can be a conduit for lower rate bonds? Why the EDA and not other entities? Who guarantees or subsidizes the lower than market bonds?

  • SteveThomas

    Other entities are not bonding agents; by statute,only certain govt entities are empowered to issue municipal bonds. It’s not really a matter of subsidy, or at least it doesn’t have to be; just the fact that the bonds are municipal instead of corporate makes them much cheaper in the open market.

    In other words, it’s an innovative way to attract jobs and investment that’s low cost and very effective (in most places).

  • http://MAVRICKinc7@msn.com Martin (Marty) Work

    Larry, if I’m not mistaken, these technology zones line up with the same areas and data presented last year when the Planning Commission idenrtified their Urban Development Areas and looking for more tools to fund the BOS’s vision. Pitts has the Hazel projects and Skinner has most of the other areas like Summitt Crossing by Tricord…you remenber Mallard Landing by Tricord don’t you (Rt 2 Corridor)? Now go to the Rt 17 Corridor. Cosner has everything east and west of I-95 until you get to Massaponax Church Road and after that it’s all Tricord.

    Tricord alone has plans to build in excess of 5000 new homes (high density) that are intended to surround Skinners railway station and parking lots. It’s all on paper. But, you already knew that. We hashed this out last year, and if I’m not mistaken Mary Lee Carter made it abundantly clear the tax payers would pay for the infrastructure/roads construction, like the new bridge over I-95, the road net work around Cosner’s hospital and now the extension of Sliver/Cosners extension of Rt 17, with another $15.5 million which neither could finance on the open market EXCEPT thru Spotsylvania County’s draw against the $144 million in transportation funds, that came in 45% lower than what it should have been,they got back in 2005. The Bos were quite understandibly encouraged to take these projects on with their GO Bonds, at 3.3% interest

    You can find the plans for all of this at FAMPO headquarters, County Administraters Office or at the County Planning, Zoning Departments. They’ve had this information for quite some time. And if the county’s “FOCUS GROUP” really does exist, you and the rest of the county still wouldn’t know the difference, since none of us are invited. Although, Steve could prove to be an exception to the rule, while conducting business with and for the County’s EDA. Makes sense to me

    As far as the bond issues, I thought TIPIFOS expalined that to you, to your satisfaction, several blogs back. Hope I didn’t spell his anonoymous moniker wrong.

    And, all of this will move ahead in conjunction with the new ordinance and TOLL ROAD AUTHORITY the BOS just put into place.. Have any questions about the Authority issue? Supv Skinner has been tasked, along with 3 members of a committee he will put together to accomplish this end.

    Is there anything I’ve said so far that you would deem inappropriate, conspiratorial, biased or misleading please let me know and please be specific. I wouldn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea.

    That will include Mr. Silly and my latest anonymous caller, GIVEMEABREAK2M… There’s more, but you may want to confine the issues of bonds and how they translate to what’s going on now instead of later, when the other shoe drops..

    The presentation provided here with Dan’s assistance will overlay precisely over the County’s Urban Development Area maps.

    Dan Telvock can pull all of the up on the FLS

  • http://MAVRICKinc7@msn.com Martin (Marty) Work

    Also Larry, did you get that letter in your FAMPO packet, under correspondence, that provided copies of a letter sent to Bobby Orrack on April 27, 2010 from Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, in response to a question Bobby had : “You asked whether the George Washington Regional Commission qualifies as a locality, AUTHORITY, or sanitation district for purposes of the Procurement of professional services under competitive negotiation as defined in 2.2-4301. Further, persuant to the Virginia Public Procurement Act, you ask whether the sum of the Commission’s projects performed in one contract term for architectural or professional engineering services related to construction projects may not exceed $500, 000″?
    If not, let me know and I’ll send you a copy I downloaded off the FAMPO website.

  • SteveThomas

    Marty, the only thing I can tell you is that the tech zones- the three current ones and the new one being created- have ZERO to do with FAMPO, Toll Road, or anything else. They were an initiative meant to help draw higher-tech, high end companies with high paying jobs to Spotsy. It is proving a useful marketing tool for smaller and defense contracting businesses.

    But as to the Spotsy EDA, rest assured we will be conducting our business in the open, as we always have. We had several conversations this week to make sure our meetings next week were conducted thusly. It’s sometimes tougher- especially if a member wants to call in- but it tends to be worth it.

  • http://MAVRICKinc7@msn.com Martin (Marty) Work

    Sorry Steve, but what part of my No. 6 didn’t you get?

  • SteveThomas

    A LOT of it. It was long and I think you may want to sum up… it’s a lot to look at on a smart phone! :)

  • bhaas

    Steve said, “It is proving a useful marketing tool for smaller and defense contracting businesses.” Steve can you provide an example or two that gives some specifics rather than a general statement?

  • SteveThomas

    Mr. Haas- There have been several instances of Spotsy companies who have expanded, and have qualified for Tech Zone incentives. You may want to consider contacting the County’s Economic Development staff for more details (I’m not sure if there’s anything confidential there, probably not).

    I can also tell you that Stafford is working on its own Tech Zones using Spotsy’s as a model.

    Hope that helps!

  • http://MAVRICKinc7@msn.com Martin (Marty) Work

    Sorry Steve to have bothered you on “Smart Phone”? That’s usually the problem when ONE top sheets, without the details. At this point in time you have all the time in the world to understand and interpret my No. 6 comment and take transparency in government anywhere you would like, or not.

    I don’t think Bill was looking to be passed off to yet another goverment entity, who is not accountable to Spotsylvania County citizens when it comes to profit and loss margins, in a development community that speaks only from behind closed doors. Saying it’s not so, only begs the issue more from a public perspective, since they are not being supplied information from their elected leaders to even make an informed decision about County business agendas. So far, in my research, there is a “FOCUS GROUP”, without minutes, in Spotsylvania County, BUT NO ONE PERSON, DEPARTMENT or COMMISSION in Spotsylvania is willing to say, in this blog or any other form of communication with Spotsylvania County government that the “Focus Group” does not exist.

    So, why would any of US want to buy what you can’t sell in open public markets.

    Too harsh? Should I tone it down? Is my message continuing to be held up as biased, misinformed, misleading, conspiratorial, and irrelevant? Since you haven’t even read this far, since “long” messages dont fit on your smart phone or blackberry, why should any one US settle for a sound bite, that sounds good, even political, but continues to say nothing about where we get details, answers to our questions, and a better understanding of who is really running our County Government.

    You’re not being asked by me to answer or interpret any of my questions, but Bill’s NO 11 deserves a better answer to his question than he received. He really is trying to open some doors and dialogue that continues to default to more polite conversation than answers.

    I’m not going anywhere, how about you?

    Question: if there are so many EDA’s in Virginia, why is it you’re not talking to them as much as anyone else standing in your shoes?

  • SteveThomas

    Marty, calm down. I’m not trying to hide anything… nor is the EDA trying to hide anything from anyone. We conduct all our business in the open, have nothing to hide, and never did- at least for the four+ years I’ve been on it. It’s basically a citizen commission, with positions reappointed every 4 years.

    The County ED staff have more information than we do… they tend to deal directly with businesses investing, whereas we tend to set the stage for a good business climate- or at least we try to. That was why I suggested Bill ask Russell or the ED staff- they are the public face of the county to potential investors and businesses, and it’s their job to have all the info and stats for the public. They’re simply a better source of info!

    We have nothing at all to do with the Toll Road Authority. The Tech Zones are nothing more than a tax incentive the County has at its disposal; you can download it actually at spotsylvania.org and read it, if you like.

    In a more narrow sense, all the EDAs are competitors to incentivize the businesses we all tend to go after. In a more practical sense, we try to work together regionally, if we can. But absolutely, we talk.

    I hope this discussion maybe cleared up some questions anyone may have had… if you have any more questions, feel free to hit me with them. It’s important- to me, at least- that folks understand what the EDA does, and that we operate in the sunshine.

  • bhaas

    Steve responded, “Mr. Haas- There have been several instances of Spotsy companies who have expanded, and have qualified for Tech Zone incentives.” Then he suggested I contact the county’s econ dev staff for details, with vague reference to “confidential details.”

    Now, I thought I was dealing with the Chairman of the Spotsy EDA? Apparently, he can recall no “details” that might be not confidential. This is the kind of obfuscation that really drives this tax payer “nuts.” Our officials can talk all they want in generalities such that they make us think they are doing good things. When we ask for details…nothing .

    BTW, Steve, I care less about what Stafford is doing…what are you doing…in detail. And please do not respond with more platitudes; if you have no details that can be revealed to a tax payer…please refrain.

  • http://MAVRICKinc7@msn.com Martin (Marty) Work

    Sorry again Steve, but I’m not upset about anything and why on earth would you be TELLING me EDA is not trying to hide anything. How would I know the difference? I’m from Missouri, SHOW ME. If your best source of information about EDA’s is a CITIZEN COMMISSION, where are the minutes, what citizen are in play, where does their work product go, and who makes up the the face of some part of the Spotsylvania County business decisions, beyond conversations that are conducted behind closed doors at the direction of the County Attorney after reciting statutory language that permits the BOS to hold the public at arms length. Am I infering anything is wrong? How could or would I know the difference? I’m not, nor is the public made privy to anything other than called for in scripted protocols and meetings. THEY call it “due process” but I call it “perceptions” without end. Due Process is just that; a large black hole in the ground where no one dares to go except the select few who have tickets of admission.

    Since Mr. Russell is soon to leave, who should we now call, just in case we have additional questions and I know for a fact HAAS has more questions that will require SPECIFICS, not dancing moves.

    When you say WE have nothing to do with the TOLL ROARD AUTHORITY, who are you refering to? And , if you are not associated with ordinance changes voted on by the BOS, WHY wouldn’t you associated associated with the fall out from the establisment of this AUTHORITY. After all, Chapter 25 of the Spotsylvania County’s land use, road construction and funding mechanism would directly translate to Economic Development and the consequences of an Authority to call all the shots without public involvement, and this translates to FAMPO and the George Washington REGIONAL Commission since they are the ones underwriting this agenda and selling it to Planning District 16, which includes your back yard.

    Finger pointing? NO. I have no reason what so ever to point fingers. I just ask questions, and so far there has been no reply or answer to my questions or anyone elses, on this side of a closed door. If my FACTS are wrong, just tell me, but provide me with an answer WHY they are wrong, and where I can go to get the real facts, beyond those already put on the boards.

    Simply said, please tell me there is no such entity in Spotsylvania County that conducts business for Spotsy, as a “FOCUS GROUP”, without minutes, where no one is allowed admission, not even the FLS, except Mary Lee Carter and her PLANNING COMMISSION members, elected officials, professionals, developers and major stakeholders who provided the basis and foundation of the BOS’s County business agendas. That was a mouth full.

    So far, no one person, department, commission or elected officials have said to the public that this “FOCUS GROUP” does not exist, nor ever has. If the question is above your pay grade, please tell me so, and I’ll continue on my way.

  • SteveThomas

    Ok, I understand where the disconnect is. You’re assuming the EDA knows about all things economic development in Spotsy. We do not. Our work is more specific than that. We just focus on ideas for creating incentives, and once in a while we get to do a bond issuance incentive. But the reality is the ED staff know much more than we do about the comings and goings of investors. I’m not dodging- ED staff really are a great resource and they would be able to get you a better- and complete- answer. They have the data, not me here in my home watching the NBA game!

    Russ is here until July. Call up and ask him more specifics- that’s his job. If you really care, you can ask them for meeting minutes, they have them all. Really, much of what the EDA does is simply coming up with ways we can be helpful to the county and its citizens and businesses- to create jobs!

    No conspiracy here, just a misunderstanding of the EDA’s mission.

  • SteveThomas

    On the Focus Group thing, I too have heard rumors but I don’t know much about it and we don’t come in contact with it. I’d keep asking the question and see what the purpose of it is, if it exists.

  • bhaas

    Disconnect????

    Wow, I guess I expect too much from those that represent us on these commissions and authorites. Sorry, Steve when I was in the business world that kind of statement just would not fly.

    Oh well, what’s new?

  • SteveThomas

    Bill- Sorry to have disappointed you. I think you assume we do mpore than we actually do, that we know more than we actually know. The fact that the EDA has to have a special session today to inform our members about all things Kalahari should tell you that we truly are a bunch of citizen volunteers, not a bunch of insiders! If you still want to learn more, come to our 1 pm meeting today over at the old Cap One buildings. You can meet us and see some of what we’re up to.

    This does require some active citizenry on your part too! If you come, I’ll know your interest is sincere; otherwise it seems like some blog bluster.

  • bhaas

    Heheh. I guess it is assumed that “we” can just drop everything and appear at a meeting with only 3+ hours notice. Otherwise, our interest is not sincere; just blog bluster!

    You know what Steve, if anyone here has done some blog blustering it is you. You are the one that cannot answer some pretty simple questions about some claims you made here.

  • SteveThomas

    Bill, you could also come to our meeting Thursday at 4. They’re open to the public, anyone can come.

    I’ll check on the answer to your question, in case you can’t come, and try to report back. I just want to make sure I give you an accurate answer- I don’t have the data in front of me and need to speak to those who do have it!

    By the way, in the business world they pay people for results. This is a volunteer commission!

  • bhaas

    I am not going to push this thing much further. You do not have the answers to clarify your statements and that is that.

    However, the EDA IS a volunteer commission; of that you are correct. However YOU volunteered, perhaps even applied, to get on the EDA. That implies certain duties and responsibilities on your part. PAID OR NOT.

    Please do not try to convince me that “volunteerism” is not serious; especially when the volunteer is in the position you are in.

    I may have been born at night, but not last night.

  • SteveThomas

    It is serious, but I fear you misunderstand the mission and resources available to us!

    To answer your question, we’ve gotten several inquiries due to the Tech Zones, 3 applications and none receieved incentives (the reasons for this vary, but in some cases they found other incentives that made more sense). In any case, it goes back to my original point that they have been a nice marketing tool to have in the County’s ED arsonal.

  • http://MAVRICKinc7@msn.com Martin (Marty) Work

    We can talk about the citizen volunteer groups until we’re blue in the face, but the BOS “eliminated” 12 citizen groups because they were interfering with the BOS mission to move ahead without question or oversight by the public agenda. How many ways can you spell OLIGARCHY? The EDA is a tool the BOS pull out of their bag when they’re not moving as fast as their friends want them to. How would you like to be a member of the F’burg EDA but can’t contribute because you have a conflict of interest but can make a presentation to the Spotsylvania County BOS on funding Kalihari on the fly, and without the least worry that anyone in Spotsy might raise a red flag?

    While I appreciate your willingness to engage political rhetoric, I might suggest you stay at home and continue watching the NBA finals.

    When you framed your response to my question about the County’s “Focus Group” as a “rumor” I was caused to conclude you are not very close to the workings and processes that make Spotsylvania County run. Please don’t be to disappointed with my conclusions, but you were better off challenging the County’s budget short comings than now.

    Of all the challenges I’ve made to date on the existence of a “FOCUS GROUP”, without minutes, the score now stands at 29 to zero in favor Spotsy and how it intends to conduct business for its citizens. My money is on the NBA’s national champions…who ever they might be.

  • http://freelancestar VinceOnorato

    Steve…why don’t you just state that the sky is blue and watch who attacks you for taking a public stand.

  • bhaas

    Well, well, well….guess who showed up at the party?

  • http://MAVRICKinc7@msn.com Martin (Marty) Work

    Bill, I wasn’t aware Vince ever left the room, much less the party.