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Fauquier County supervisors to consider incentives for defense contractors

Friday, Feb. 7 | By Jonathan Hunley
Fauquier Economic Development Direcdtor Miles Friedman
Fauquier supervisors are scheduled to discuss Thursday creating incentives for defense contractors in the county.

The idea is to aid any existing contractors in the locality and to attract new businesses who work with the U.S. Department of Defense and/or other companies in the industry.

The supervisors will consider creating Defense Production Incentive Zones, which means qualifying businesses in the county's designated service districts or on federally owned land would be eligible for rebates on county taxes and fees.

The program would be similar to those the county already has to boost the tourism and technology sectors of the economy.

Put more simply, it's another way Fauquier can expand commerce within its boundaries.

"It expands our toolkit," county Economic Development Director Miles Friedman said Friday.

State legislation gave localities the ability to use the incentive program, but few have done so, Friedman said.

He said his office has identified more than 100 companies in the county that already do some kind of business with the federal government. So those that deal specifically with defense could be eligible for incentives if supervisors approve the creation of the new zones.

And Friedman said that this program would be particularly beneficial because it involves rebates, which means no tax money would be spent up front to attract businesses.

It also includes a mechanism for Fauquier to get incentive money back if a company didn't hold up its end of an agreement.

Incentive programs that require government spending on the front end often are criticized by political observers who fear they dole out taxpayer dollars too freely.

That's why economic development professionals have to ensure they don't get so excited about a business prospect that they make a deal that turns out to cost more than it's worth.

"It's a balancing act," Friedman noted.

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