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Enterprise Zone Program

About the Program

Bristol's Enterprise Zone Program is a Commonwealth of Virginia economic development program managed by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. The state's Enterprise Zone Program is designed to offer state and local incentives for businesses to locate or expand within the designated zone areas. Bristol’s zone consists of 634 acres of commercial, industrial, retail, and office spaces. For an interactive map visit: http://gis.yesvirginia.org/datasets/394e709c529a4ec3bcc644dbd03d91f2_3?selectedAttributes%5B%5D=Zone&chartType=bar&uiTab=table. All incentives listed below and are subject to the availability of funding.

  

State Incentives

Real Property Investment Grant

Real Property Investment Grants are available for investments made to industrial, commercial, or mixed-use property in an enterprise zone. A mixed-use property is a building incorporating residential uses in which a minimum of 30% of the usable floor space will be devoted to commercial, office, or industrial space.

Existing Structures

For the rehabilitation or expansion of existing structures the investor must spend at least $100,000 in qualified real property improvements in order to qualify. Grants are calculated at a rate of 20% of the amount of the investment in excess of $100,000. For projects under $5 million, the maximum amount an investor can receive is $100,000 within a five year period. For projects over $5 million, the maximum is $200,000 over a five-year period.

New Construction

For new construction the investor must spend at least $500,000 in qualified real property improvements in order to be eligible. Grants are calculated at a rate of 20% of the amount of the investment in excess of $500,000. For projects under $5 million, the maximum amount an investor can receive is $100,000 within a five year period. For projects over $5 million, the maximum amount is $200,000 over a five-year period.

Job Creation Grants

Wage-based job creation grants are offered for new, permanent full-time positions created by business startups and expansions by existing firms. Wage-based job grants are available for all qualified business firms that are not personal service, food/beverage or retail establishments.

Wage-based job creation grants are available in amounts up to $500 per grant-eligible position filled by an employee earning 175% of the federal minimum wage and up to $800 per grant-eligible position filled by an employee earning 200% of the federal minimum wage. These

positions must also offer health benefits.

Business firms are eligible to receive job grants for five consecutive calendar years from the first year of grant eligibility. Firms can receive wage-based job creation grants for up to 350 grant eligible positions per year. Positions that pay less than 175% of the federal minimum wage or that do not offer health benefits are not eligible for grants.

Local Incentives

Local incentives have been established to complement and enhance the state enterprise zone incentives. Examples of local incentives offered by the City of Bristol include:

  • Building Façade: This incentive will provide grants to cover 50% of the cost of improvements up to $2,500. The work may include painting, cleaning, repairing windows and doors, awnings, and signs. It may also include landscape and beautification improvements. It is a reimbursable grant based on documentation of actual expenditures.

  • Business Rental Assistance: This incentive is to encourage new businesses to locate downtown. Businesses that create at least 4 FTE jobs and stay within their location for at least two years are eligible to apply at signing of lease. The rental assistance is not to exceed $500 monthly for six months. This grant will be in the form of a forgivable loan.

  • Rehabilitated Real Estate Tax Exemption: This incentive is to encourage the rehabilitation of older structures. The tax exemption will be over a ten-year period with a decreasing amount of exemption following the fifth year, and each following year on the initial increased valuation that results from the rehabilitation of the structure.

  • Job Training: This incentive will provide a grant to eligible businesses that create or retain jobs. The grant will be provided on a reimbursement basis after the business has documented the type of training and cost, and will be capped at 50% of the project cost. The grant can be used for pre-employment or new employee training for jobs that are available to low and moderate income persons or training to upgrade the skills of existing workers. This grant can supplement other job training funds such as the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.

  • Design Assistance: Assistance is provided by Believe in Bristol and includes architectural, landscaping, paint schemes, signage, and other information and suggestions that will enhance the image of each business as well as the district.

  • Expedited Permitting: The incentive is meant to assist companies that are locating in the Enterprise Zone, or expanding, with getting active assistance from the City in expediting any permitting process that may be required at the local level.