Lucas: Restraints on Local EDAs Are Unneeded

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February 18, 2018
View story in The News & Advance...The Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance maintains a presence in Richmond during the General Assembly session and closely watches bills and issues that could impact our region.

A bill gaining traction (Senate Bill 714) is one that we oppose as it’s an unprecedented and unwarranted effort to constrain the ability of our economic development professionals to effectively respond to job creating opportunities and limits our ability to compete in a global environment.

Like all local government agencies, economic developers operate within the budgets approved by their governing bodies, and their efforts must be consistent with the policy direction provided by their governing bodies. SB714 would require every expenditure to be subject to approval and would bog down efforts in unnecessary bureaucracy and limit the ability to respond to prospects at the speed of business. In short, we lose out on opportunities in Virginia while localities in other states are able to respond quickly.

Economic development authorities (EDAs) are currently empowered to assist in the execution of a community’s economic development strategy swiftly and can confidentially respond to company inquires. This is imperative to remain competitive. SB714’s additional layer of approval would remove localities’ and a region’s ability to compete against other states who don’t have this layer. The separation between official policy makers and crafting an economic development proposal is necessary. Local elected governing boards appoint EDA members with expertise in business and industry and a natural inclination toward understanding economic development who can negotiate on behalf of a locality.