New Enterprise Zone Encourages Business Growth

Lynchburg, VA - The intersection of Lakeside Drive and 501 is busy and expected to get even busier. Crews have cleared land for the brand new Fresh Market, and construction on Craft Hyundai is moving along too.

The city wants existing and new businesses to thrive and they have one idea to make that happen: the enterprise zone.

The city can name an area an enterprise zone. That basically means, in a certain part of the city, the city's focused on job creation and development.

Before building its Hyundai dealership, Craft Automotive Group looked in the counties. But, in the end, stayed in Lynchburg. One incentive, says Danielle Hamlet, is the enterprise zone.

"With the Fresh Market coming in, this development, you got Sheetz, stuff is building everywhere, and I just think it's going to be beneficial for the city and us to be within the city," said Hamlett.

But, where do you put an enterprise zone? We took that question to the city's economic development office. Here's the technical answer: "Either new construction or expansions to an existing building of $100,000 or more and job creation of at least five jobs that pays at least 150% of the federal minimum wage, including health benefits," said Brian Gleason, economic development office.

For the non-technical types, an enterprise zone simply pinpoints areas like Lakeside Drive where business is about to pop, names it an enterprise zone, and lets tax incentives flow in.

"It encourages business to locate in the city," said H. Cary, Lynchburg City Council member.

Council Member H. Cary is pro-enterprise zone.

"So, it kind of seems like a no-brainer?" we asked.

"In my mind it seems like a no-brainer. Yes," said Cary.

But, one problem: the state limits the number of enterprise zones. The city must get rid of old enterprise zones in order to create new ones - and that's easier said than done.

To change the enterprise zones, the city needs approval from city council and Housing and Community Development. The process starts with a public hearing at city council Tuesday evening.

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