Will Tax Incentives Lure Businesses to Struggling Parts Of Virginia?

Jun 21, 2018

Businesses across the country are about to get major new tax incentives to move to some of the poorest parts of Virginia. But will it work?

Virginia is about to embark on a grand new experiment: A huge tax break designed to help parts of the Commonwealth that are bleeding jobs and population.

Republican Delegate Will Morefield believes this could be revolutionary for southwest and southside Virginia. “One of the greatest economic development policies that we’ve seen in 50 years with the primary benefactor being some of the poorest localities in Virginia.”

But will it work?

Chris Wodika at the Commonwealth Institute admits bringing economic development to struggling parts of Virginia is a great goal. But, he says, businesses aren’t looking for tax cuts. Instead they want: “More funding infrastructure or boosting funding for schools or workforce development to provide those things businesses say they’re looking for like access to highways or having a skilled workforce.”

Lawmakers passed the bill earlier this year even though their own analysis said the revenue impact is unknown. Now that the new tax breaks are about to go into effect, they’ll soon have an indication if it’s a gamble that will pay off.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.