Small businesses are our economic engines today

Published 11:49 am Wednesday, September 7, 2016

As we continued our tour of the Fifth District last week, making dozens of visits in Gretna, Chatham, Danville, Ridgeway, Martinsville, Arrington, Lovingston, Palmyra, Charlottesville, Warrenton, Washington, Madison and Stanardsville, we had a chance to visit with many small businesses — some that have long served their communities and others that have just begun to do so. 

And in talking to both entrepreneurs and employees, we continued to be reminded that these small businesses are the backbones of our Main Street economies, and we must adopt policies that create favorable conditions for them to succeed and expand.

On our tour of the Danville River District and several of its small businesses, we visited the original Biscuitville, first of the 54 stores in the Virginia and North Carolina-based chain, where they still make biscuits from scratch every morning based on a decades-old family recipe.

We must continue to make policy that fosters the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit of our communities to see more jobs, higher wages and more investment in our area.  One such issue we have worked on extensively is poised to pay dividends for job prospects in the Danville area.

Southern Power announced last week that it plans to make a multi-million dollar investment to establish a natural gas facility at the Berry Hill MegaPark just west of Danville — the first entity to announce its intention to locate in the park. 

This announcement would not have occurred without changes to the Army Corps of Engineers’ policy regarding the permitting process for such economic development activity.

We worked with local and state government officials from Henry County, Martinsville, Pittsylvania County and Danville to petition the Corps to reconsider their rules so both the MegaPark and the Commonwealth Crossing Centre in Henry County could move forward and attract major employers to these economic sites.

This is hopefully the first of many such job-creating announcements, and it is just one example of the approach we must take to cultivate our regulatory environment to invite economic activity. 

Robert Hurt, a Republican, represents Lunenburg County in the U.S. House of Representatives. He can be reached at his Farmville office at (434) 395-0120.