Technology Zone key for Sussex Economic Development

By Terry Harris

A recent Ordinance to Amend the code of Sussex County has the potential to have a profound effect on the county, according to David Conmy, the county’s Deputy Administrator and Economic Development Director.

When asked what the Technology Zone designation means in layman’s terms, Conmy explained that for the technology zone, the county pre-determines/defines a broad array  of incentives which can be available for qualified companies to take advantage of if they are eligible to meet the criteria, such as if they are within the boundaries of the zone.

“Often times, especially working with companies interested in projects including large areas of 1000 acres or so, we’re competing with other areas across the country,” he said. “This change in our code to include a Technology Zone makes us competitive with other area.  In other words, rather than having to predict what incentives Sussex County might be amenable to providing to encourage them to locate here and then have numerous meetings for the Board of Supervisors to determine what might be done for every potential candidate, this delineates  - in advance – some pre-approved possibilities the board would be willing to provide under the right circumstances.  It provides certainty up front on what the local incentives would be on a business that would choose to locate within the technological zone area.” 

Conmy described the change, which had been initially brought forth with a consultant from VA’S Gateway Region,  as being “a real game changer for Economic Development.”

“Previously when we had a prospect looking to locate in the county,” he explained, “because it is traditional that a county would offer incentives which already were set by other areas already having  a Technological Zone in place, whatever Sussex might have been willing to offer to entice the potential business to locate in Sussex would be up in the air while the Board of Supervisors would have to work out details on each case. Having the incentives already laid out eliminates a big questions up front. It keeps us in the running during the early stages.”

As for how he feels about the change, Conmy said, “I’m very excited about it!  We have already been able to share that the board had made this move, and it came at a very opportune time when applying for a recent grant. Kudos to the board for aggressively pursuing something like this in such a short period of time.” 

“This underscores how focused the board is on prioritizing Economic Development in the County,” he added.  “I think it sends a message to the ED community highlighting the county’s focus on ED going forward, 

The full ordinance can be found on the Sussex County Website from the Packet of the November 17 meeting of the Board of Supervisors under “6. Action Items 6.01 Technology Zone Ordinance   Sussex County Board of Supervisors Rescheduled Regular Meeting Thursday, November 17, 2022 – 6 pm General District Courtroom – Sussex Judicial Center 15098 Courthouse Road, Sussex VA 23884

A few highlights include:

Sec. 1.   Purpose of Technology Zone.

The County of Sussex (or the “County”) has determined that the development of its commercial tax base requires incentives, and further determines that an appropriate method of offering incentives for the County is to create a Technology Zone. 

Technology Business means a Business whose primary purpose is the research, development, or manufacture, distribution and/or design for lease, sale, or license of Technology Products, Processes or Related Services. 

Technology business may also include any advanced manufacturing operations utilized in the research and development or production of consumer or commercial products, data center operations or information technology operations.  Technology business may also include distribution and warehousing operations, particularly those utilizing automated systems, robotics, or other advanced technologies in the warehousing or distribution of products for business or consumer use.

Technology Products, Processes or Related Services means engaging in the activities of automation, automotive vehicles, automotive components, autonomous vehicles or components, batteries, biotechnology, biomedical research, chemicals, computer hardware, computer software, defense, electric vehicles or components, electronics, energy, environmental, homeland security, manufacturing equipment, advanced materials, medical technologies, pharmaceuticals, photonics, electronic-based sub-assemblies and components, testing and measurement, telecommunications, systems integration, information systems, internet software, or data and data warehousing or training in the above concentration areas.

Sec. 6.   SOME Eligibility Requirements.

(a)Existing and new businesses. requirements shall apply to all businesses seeking the Incentives provided in this chapter: 

i.Business must be engaged in a qualified technology business.

ii.Businesses must commit to the creation of at least five net new jobs and at least $5,000,000 in Capital Investment (machinery and equipment or real property); or creation of 10 net new jobs and at least $1,000,000 in new Capital Investment. 

iii.Businesses must make a capital investment of at least $1,000,000 to be eligible for the Business Tangible Personal Property rebate.