On May 25 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, Governor Bob McDonnell signed the second part of his "Opportunity at Work" legislative package. The three measures signed will help to increase tourism and attract new business to the state. The Governor was joined at the signing ceremony by Secretary of Commerce and Trade Jim Cheng, members of the General Assembly, Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms, and stakeholders in the retail, tourism and commercial spaceflight industries.
Speaking about the legislation signed, Governor McDonnell remarked, "Economic development and job creation remains my top priority. Over the last year and a half Virginia's unemployment rate has dropped over one percent and we have added 64,900 net new jobs. But there is more work to be done to help every Virginian get a good-paying, quality job. The three bills I signed today will go far to encourage job creators to choose Virginia and invest in this state."
Governor McDonnell continued, "Tourism is an important revenue stream for Virginia, generating $17.7 billion in revenue annually, and supporting 204,500 jobs. Legislation signed today will allow certain locally-approved tourism projects to temporarily retain a portion of local and state sales tax to complete financing for a project, helping Virginia's tourism industry, a significant sector of our economy, continue to grow. In addition, it is my goal to make Wallops Island the best spaceport in America and this legislation will direct revenue generated by commercial spaceflight to the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority encouraging significant growth of the aerospace industry in the Commonwealth. Finally, the third piece of legislation signed today will allow a county, city or town to provide relief from license taxes to any business opening in that locality for the first two years. This will defray some of the startup costs of a new business, which should help encourage businesses to choose Virginia. We are constantly looking to implement policies that will help the private sector to create new jobs here in Virginia. That is what this legislation does and it is part of our ongoing effort to ensure that Virginia remains the most business-friendly state in America."
Several Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce staff members and volunteer leaders were at the signing event. Ira Agricola, Senior Vice President of the Chamber, said, “The Chamber actively supported BPOL reform bills and bills that created tourism zones and the construction of a new Convention Hotel in Virginia Beach.”
Senator Thomas Norment (R-Williamsburg) added, "Tourism brings good jobs and much needed revenue to my district of Williamsburg and every corner of the Commonwealth as Virginians travel within the state and as visitors from across the country and around the world choose to visit Virginia. Through the creation of the Tourism Development Grant Program we will be able to provide a mechanism by which local tourism projects can fill a potential funding gap in order to get new projects off the ground."
Delegate Sal Iaquinto (R-Virginia Beach) noted, "Governor McDonnell and his economic development team are actively working to recruit businesses to Virginia and ensure that businesses have the tools they need to start up. Through the Business License Incentive Program, localities will be able to provide tax relief on business licenses to help businesses during their first two years. This program will defray some of the initial costs of getting up and running and will help ensure businesses have a little more of the cash flow they may need to be successful from day one."