Stephens City plans to create its own economic development authority | Winchester Star
CITY OF STEPHENS – The city is considering the possibility of creating its own Economic Development Authority.
At Tuesday night’s city council meeting, council member Linden Fravel said the issue had been discussed by the planning committee.
An EDA in Virginia is a vehicle for providing incentives for economic development. CDAs have the power to issue bonds to raise funds, and their power is broader than that of a local government. According to state code, an EDA can acquire real and personal property as well as rent, sell, trade, donate and transmit its facilities or properties. It is also authorized to make loans, grants and loan forgiveness.
“If we’re upfront about everything, CDAs offer capabilities that municipalities just can’t access for one reason or another,” Mayor Mike Diaz said in an interview. “It gives voters more leeway and flexibility in working with businesses and organizations, which unfortunately municipalities simply cannot do. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Diaz said the biggest benefit of having an EDA is helping a community apply for grants.
“When you have municipal staff [whose] the only responsibility is to run the city, an AED can apply for grants that the staff just don’t have time for, ”Diaz said. “They can get involved with nonprofits to be public-private partnerships that you just don’t have the time or the capacity for.”
City Manager Mike Majher told The Star that Stephens City wants to beautify the Main Street and that city beautification projects are often facilitated by an ADC. He said the beautification projects help create an atmosphere conducive to small town business. He said a “main impetus” in wanting an ADC is “what can we do to beautify Main Street / Route 11 to encourage small business? “
Establishing an DEA is a long process that would require further consideration by the planning commission and city council, a public hearing and approval by the general assembly. Stephens City is also expected to find people interested in being part of the EDA.
Majher said if the board decided to go ahead with the creation of an ADC, it would take at least a few months before it was established.
“The next step is to continue to assess potential projects that would be beneficial or ideal for an ADC and that would be something that we are going to initiate at the planning and personnel level,” said Majher. “Once we are sure that this is what we would like to do, if we assess that it is doable for us, then [the Planning Commission] will make a more final recommendation to council for further action. Then the board will make a decision.