Bolling brings "Reduce Red Tape" to Danville
Saturday, October 27, 2012
Danville Register Bee
Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling was in Danville on Friday holding one of the nine "Reduce Red Tape" roundtables he has scheduled around the state.
The goal of the series of discussions is to gather feedback from business owners and local officials on which state agencies are doing a good job at helping localities, mainly with job creation and economic development efforts - and which are making such efforts unnecessarily difficult, Bolling said.
Bolling gave the group some examples of issues his chief jobs creation office has been able to help straighten out, including glitch that almost stopped the new Williamsburg Pottery project: a stop light.
The project needed a stop light installed for access and egress to the complex, Bolling said, but the Virginia Department of Transportation said placing one where the pottery developers wanted it would be 5 feet too close to the next traffic light on the road.
"A $30 million project, employing hundreds of people, almost didn't happen," Bolling said. "We got it done."
Comments ranged from a lack of state funding for Pre-K education (Ted Hodges of Clement & Wheatley noted that Virginia has only budgeted $1.5 million for its Smart Beginnings program, and Charles Majors, chairman of the board at American National Bank, compared that to the $250 million North Carolina budgets for similar programs) and job training.
Karl Stauber, CEO of the Danville Regional Foundation, said the region lacks a true Interstate highway, which would help in job recruitment. He recommended the state find a road that North Carolina legislators would like to see improved as an interstate they would connect to, and bargain with them to get one completed on both sides of the border here in exchange.
Lynwood Wright, of the Danville Economic Development Department, said some agencies simply take too long to respond to development needs.
Wright said a project in Danville - an industrial site that is being developed for a 90-job project that will pay $45,000-$48,000 a year - is being slowed down by the Army Corps of Engineers and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
"If we complain, we're told we're ambivalent on historic resources, or we don't care about the environment or water," Wright said. "I realize we both have to give a bit ¿ but the real problem here is a loss of time."
Bolling asked Wright to send him specifics on the hold-up, but said the Army Corps of Engineers is a federal agency that is "a real problem" on many projects.
Bolling said he called the Corps on one project that was stalled and was told there were "substantial waters of the commonwealth" at the site.
"They're drainage ditches," he said, noting that some federal agencies are "crushing efforts in Virginia."
After 90 minutes of discussion, the roundtable ended. Bolling said all the comments from the different roundtables would be compiled and used to create next year's legislative agenda.
"We want to cut red tape," Bolling said.
For additional information contact Ibbie Hedrick at 804-225-2487 or firstname.lastname@example.org.