By Leah Small, The Progress-Index
PETERSBURG — The city’s office of economic development has stressed the need for local, state and federal incentives to promote job and business growth in the city.
Reginald Tabor, project manager for the city’s office of economic development, spoke to Council during its annual retreat on Thursday. Tabor stressed the tax breaks, grants and other incentives available to developers in the city. Developers who take advantage of these incentives could save thousands and increase real estate tax revenue to the city.
For federal incentives, SBA microloans provide funding of up to $50,000 for economic development. The Section 108 Loan Guarantee program gives a line of credit to developers that may be paid over 20 years. Payments may be up to five times the city’s Community Development Block Grant allotment, which is currently $3 million. Community Development Block Grants are annual funds given to localities by the federal government to foster economic development and services.
Tabor also said that the city could potentially work with developers who want to relocate to the United State and obtain a visa. The EB5 Immigrant Investor program gives visas to those who invest $1 million or at least $500,000 in areas with high unemployment rates, which would include Petersburg with an unemployment rate of 9.5 percent.
For state incentives, gap funding is available for private projects in partnership with the state, localities and financial institutions. The funding is not to exceed 30 percent for projects less than $1 million and 20 percent for projects more than $ 1 million.
Projects within state business enterprise zones are also available for incentives. Up to $100,000 is available for projects of less than $5 million and up to $200,000 is available for projects of $5 million of more.
Businesses in Enterprise Zones can also benefit from up to a $500 a year payment to finance new full-time positions, through the Job Creation Grant.
Petersburg and Dinwiddie have also established a joint enterprise zone along Halifax Road. The zone gives businesses a five-year exemption from business, professional and occupational taxes. Permit fee waivers are given for building zoning and land disturbance. Waivers are also given for water and sewer connections for qualifying businesses.
The city’s Central Business Enterprise Zone, which encompasses the downtown, receives several incentives. Historic properties that have been renovated receive a five year extension on real estate rehabilitation tax exemptions. The exemptions decline each year from 100 percent to 30 and then 10 percent. Historic properties are eligible for a facade improvement grant of up to 50 percent. A 50 percent reduction of tap fees for water and sewer connections is available for properties being converted into residential properties with five or more units.