By Keri Forsythe-Stephens, Global Trade
Logistically, Richmond, Virginia, offered numerous advantages over Stamford, Connecticut, says Tucker McNeil, communications director of WestRock, the company formed from the recent MeadWestvaco (MWV)/Rock-Tenn merger. The nearby Port of Norfolk would allow MWV to easily export its U.S.-manufactured packaging goods; plus, access to talent was considerable, given Virginia’s expansive university system. But what really gave Virginia an edge, McNeil says, is the state’s friendliness to business—a fact highlighted by Virginia’s numerous tax breaks and favorable regulatory policies.
Moving a company’s headquarters is no small task, but McNeil says it was well worth it for MWV since Stamford is a notoriously expensive city. So nine years ago MVW did just that—and the global packaging company continues to operate in Virginia under the WestRock umbrella. (The company’s Rock-Tenn arm still has a presence in Georgia.)
Virginia Economic Development Partnership’s (VEDP) Suzanne Clark says MWV’s decision to relocate wasn’t surprising, considering Virginia’s slew of business incentives. “Our state views incentives as an investment in its economic future and as a basis for a rational business decision for both the Commonwealth and the companies,” Clark says. Particularly beneficial to business are the state’s “extremely competitive” sales and use tax exemptions, she says, as well as VEDP’s Virginia Jobs Investment Program. The latter initiative offers customized recruiting and training assistance to companies creating new jobs or experiencing technological changes, Clark explains—adding that VEDP helps companies seeking a prime business location foster international trade growth.
Other popular incentives include the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund, which has helped companies secure Virginia business locations for nearly two decades, and the Virginia Investment Partnership (VIP) Grant, a discretionary performance incentive that encourages Virginia companies to continue making capital investments; such a program, Clark says, results in increased capacity, productivity and modernization. All things considered, she says, “Virginia’s robust incentives help attract new business and support and encourage the growth of companies in the Commonwealth.”
Click here to read about five other states that use incentives to attract new business.