Surry commits to industrial authority

Published 5:07 pm Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Surry’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Feb. 3 to commit the county to joining a regional industrial facilities authority (RIFA).

Virginia’s Gateway Region, a nonprofit economic development authority that markets the Hopewell-Petersburg-Colonial Heights tri-cities area and surrounding localities, invited Surry to join with its membership last August in forming the RIFA.

Doing so will allow Surry to partner with its neighbors to the south and west on economic development projects, with each locality sharing in a portion of the resulting tax revenue.

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The authority will be governed by a board composed of two representatives from each member locality: Surry, Prince George, Sussex and Dinwiddie counties, and the cities of Hopewell, Colonial Heights and Petersburg.

The Eastern Virginia RIFA, of which Isle of Wight County is a member, includes a total of 10 Hampton Roads localities. Forming a new RIFA for the Gateway Region would cost roughly $13,000, which, divided among the seven localities, would make Surry’s buy-in around $1,850, VGR President and Chief Executive Officer Keith Boswell had estimated to Surry’s supervisors last August.

Beyond that, it would be up to Surry County to decide what monetary amount to contribute toward regional projects. Each locality’s resulting tax revenue from any regional partnership — such as jointly developing an industrial park — would be proportional to the amount of funding each invests in the project.

“It would only cost what we want it to cost,” said Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Judy Lyttle.

“This gives us a great chance to expand our tax base and really grow as a county, and we do have infrastructure issues that we could use this as a tool for future growth,” said Yoti Jabri, Surry’s director of economic development.

Surry is the second locality to commit to joining the new RIFA. According to Boswell, Sussex had previously become its inaugural member.

Surry’s vote followed a public hearing, which drew no speakers.