Spotsylvania News

Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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Correction for today’s story

Chalk it up as a bad day of reporting for me because I screwed up today’s story. This was the presentation I was working off of, which can explain some of the confusion.

Here is the correction: Spotsylvania County has tech zones for Rt. 1, Rts. 2 and 17, and State Route 3. A story yesterday named an area not in a tech zone. The county has special service districts for Lees Hill West and East, Massaponax and Harrison Crossing. A fifth one was incorrect in the story.  Tech zones do affect Tax Incremental Financing districts and Community Development Authorities because the BPOL and Machinery and Tools taxes are rebated in tech zones.

I should have figured this out but I was trying to follow the presentation, which was a big mistake because it became pretty confusing.

But I did not have my common sense cap on last night.

A technology zone that overlaps a TIF or CDA would have an impact because TIFs and CDAs collect tax revenue, such as BPOL and Machinery and Tools tax, to pay off the debt of the infrastructure built near the development. Since a business in a tech zone that qualifies gets rebates on the BPOL and MT tax, then there is a problem.

Now whether is affects the county’s 10 percent “set aside” for transportation in Harrison Crossing, my answer is a questionable no. In the presentation, each is checked as NO for the set asides, but then it seemed like last night they did talk about possible ways of losing the 10 percent set aside.

I’d love for a supervisor to comment on clear up the confusion that happened last night for the benefit of the readers.

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  • SteveThomas

    Dan- I agree with you that this part of the discussion was particularly confusing.

    The 10 pct setaside for transportation takes 10 pct of all business taxes, including BPOL and M+T Tax, to pay for transport improvements. If a Tech Zone is overlapped on top of one, the county would lose ONLY the 10 pct of those two taxes paid by a new tech business that received the incentive provided by the Tech Zone. Thus far, no businesses have received the Tech Zone incentives, but even if they did we’d be talking about the 10 pct setaside areas losing hundreds of dollars for 5 years coming from new tech businesses, possibly (but unlikely) thousands if it’s a HUGE tech business but that’s about it.

    Does that help?

  • SteveThomas

    One thing- a TIF or CDA need not be affected necessarily because TIFs or CDAs might not touch BPOL or M+T Taxes. Depends on how each TIF or CDA is written.

  • dtelvock

    Thanks Steve. I hope you got the info from correct sources. That entire presentation was completely confusing and I wasn’t planning to write any deadline story because no real action was taken to change policy, but they wanted me to write one anyway. The staff reports didn’t help understand this at all.

  • SteveThomas

    Got it from the horse’s mouth… We’ve been talking about this on the EDA for a couple months now. But we only discussed a narrow expansion around the hospital. So we had to deal with the 10 pct setaside early. The TIF and CDA issue only comes into play with the expansion talked about last night, so it wasn’t considered a big deal until recently.

    For anyone who wants to know more about a tech zone and how they work in Spotsy, the ordinance is posted online at

  • dtelvock

    Good stuff, Steve. Thanks for helping us out.

  • TRE

    Adding more or expanding Technology Zones is not a “silver bullet” for job creation and may undermine the effectiveness and efforts of current Technology Zones/Locations. Additionally, adding new zones dilutes the future effectiveness of the Technology Zone Concept. Over 500,000 square feet of very attractively price space currently exists within the three technology zones on Rt. 1, Rt. 2 and Rt. 3 with many opportunities available beyond 500,000 square feet.

    Adding a Technology Zone at the new Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center area is counter- intuitive as the Medical Center itself is an excellent catalyst for growth and a magnet for other medical and medical/life science businesses. Clearly SRMC has already been a catalyst for growth as a great deal of Medical development has occurred in that area and Lee’s Hill area over the last three years. The County has made significant investments/concessions in the SRMC area over the past few years and significant development and growth occurred there. Congratulations and thanks are in order to the County efforts and success. However, patience should be exercised to let the County’s investments in the SRMC area pay off before offering even more incentives in those areas that have already grown significantly.

    There was a strategic reason the Technology Zones were initially created. The County should carefully and strategically focus limited resources on existing Technology Zones and targeted industries. Focused economic activities can develop into a critical mass of businesses as it has done near SRMC. A focused or clustering approach allows the County to develop strategic reasons for businesses to locate to the County in the future. It is vital to maintain a focused Technology Zone approach where technology companies can begin to cluster and create a critical mass of similar businesses. In this way, other firms will see these clusters and feel comfortable locating within these zones. Success will become a self-fulfilling event. Similar to what has already happened in the SRMC area with the growth of medical.

    Clustering businesses will also attract larger businesses to the zones and County. This clustering and focus would cut down on building unnecessary roads and infrastructure and would focus County critical funds on other strategic areas. Additionally this clustering will provide support to retail and service businesses and allow people to work and live in the same areas and will not encourage suburban sprawl.

    If a company is so large that the current areas cannot meet the needs, then I am sure the County would not lose the business simply because a Technology Zone does not exist somewhere.

    All successful businesses and initiatives have a focus, a niche, a strategic advantage. Those that try to be all things to all people usually perform less than average or fail. Of course you can become too specialized, but we are nowhere near that level of focus.

    Please don’t waste critical County resources for expanded Technology Zone or waste incentives on businesses that are already going to locate near SRMC.

  • SteveThomas

    TRE, I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that you might be a developer of some of the properties within the current Tech Zones.

    You are right about the clustering effect, of course, which is where I have doubts about such a large expansion of TZs.

    But there’s nothing wrong with putting them on top of the SRMC. If it helps them fill their buildings and makes it a more viable project, great. I don’t think any defense contractors would locate near the hospital tho; those would still make sense to cluster in the existing TZs.

    Not sure about the marginal benefit of putting one in Lake Anna, tho the Jackson Gateway makes more sense for future growth.

  • TRE

    have things in and out of tech zones locally and do more than development…just like everyone else. But I am trying to tell folks what works successfully in others places.. a proven method.. and I do know that a focused approach works better for the overall community and will be looked at more favorably by companies. The area will never be known for a focus… or strategy… if it gets watered down…

    If SRMC needs help the let’s find the right way… but tech at SRMC? where’s the fit. Do we want a flex building across from SRMC.. a highly secure gov’t facility, a data center? seems like there are lots of other places for that to go. Assisted living.. got it.. residential nearby.. ok.. R&D and flex have lots of places to go. I thought the plan was for supportive retail to be near hospital. .. When I look at hospitals over State… well…I just don’t see TECH ZONES.

    This feels like a square peg in a round hole and likely more to the story than what is on the surface. Is this to help SRMC or Cosner East/West?

    Medical development in the area has happened.. did too much happen? Don’t know. there should not be panic if the buildings are a little slow or too much medical happened. If we are trying to help more medical come to area then let’s just make it work for that purpose.