“It was a year of new beginnings and continued reinvestment,” says Gary McLaren, Henrico Economic Development Authority (EDA) Executive Director, when asked to sum up the county’s latest fiscal year.
The Henrico EDA is tasked with creating a business environment that attracts quality new companies and nurtures existing ones. “Our job is to retain and assist existing business and recruit new companies so that quality jobs are available to sustain families,” McLaren explains. “We focus on capital intensive sectors so that we have a robust tax base to pay for the services and amenities our citizens expect.”
The latest fiscal year included the addition of four new hires to the nine-member EDA team, including a new position to bolster our assistance to existing business, along with significant growth news from area businesses. Some of the year’s highlights include the planned transformation of Regency Square Mall and investment and job announcements from companies like Premier Fixtures ($4.6 million investment/150 jobs), Dominion Packaging ($25 million/60) and UDig ($2.9 million/45).
Eighteen announcements for existing and new business projects for the fiscal year are expected to create:
During the 2016-17 fiscal year, measures to attract more business included two new ordinances – one designed to ease the business license tax burden for Henrico businesses, the other to dramatically reduce property taxes on data centers to better position Henrico County to attract this capital-intensive, rapidly expanding segment of the economy. (To learn more, see “Henrico County Tax Changes Will Benefit Business.”)
The staff at the Henrico EDA worked tirelessly during the year, traveling with the Greater Richmond Partnership to places like France, Eastern Europe, China and Brazil on marketing missions to attract businesses to the area. “We have seen an approximate 50 percent increase in new project generation and prospect activity in the past year as a result of our marketing efforts, along with the other pro-business tax changes made by Henrico County leadership in recent years,” says McLaren.
The staff also coordinated a rebrand, participated in panel discussions, organized job fairs, and attended several economic development conferences during the year, all while Business First volunteers and staff were reaching out to more existing businesses than ever to ensure their continued success.
Finally, one of the most fulfilling milestones of the year for the EDA was the creation of our Legacy Program, which honors companies that have reached their 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 and 50+ year anniversaries of operating in Henrico County. Nearly 190 companies were honored with framed plaques for their anniversary milestones. An additional 39 companies that have operated in Henrico for 50 or more years were honored at a special event in May, during which they were presented crystal awards.
It’s been a busy, exciting, fruitful year, and we’re looking forward to continued success in the year ahead.