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Lawmakers welcome corps action

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Federal lawmakers representing Southern Virginia applauded the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ final approval of a permit needed for Henry County to begin developing Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre.

U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, both Democrats and former Virginia governors, and U.S. Reps. Morgan Griffith and Robert Hurt, both Republicans, got involved in recent months in convincing the corps to grant the permit.

In August, the lawmakers introduced the “Commonsense Permitting for Job Creation Act” to Congress to expedite the permit’s approval. The legislation has not yet been approved, but the corps announced Friday that the permit has been made official.

Lawmakers said they were glad to work together to accomplish something that they believe will greatly benefit the region.

Kaine called the granting of the permit “welcome and long-overdue news.”

“Martinsville and Henry County worked tirelessly and invested heavily to bring the Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre to fruition,” he said. “I’m proud of this bipartisan effort, appreciative that the corps worked with us to get to ‘yes,’ and excited for the development and employment prospects this creates in Southern Virginia.”

“I’m so pleased that we can finally move forward with the Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre and help create jobs for Southside,” said Warner. “It shouldn’t have been this difficult (to get the permit).”

“This is a victory for Martinsville and Henry County,” he said.

The localities have agreed to share revenue received from companies that locate at Commonwealth Crossing.

“I was pleased to hear this excellent news for Henry County, and thank our local officials in Martinsville and Henry County who have worked diligently to bring jobs to Southside Virginia despite the bureaucratic red tape that continually stalled their progress,” said Hurt, of Chatham.

“I look forward to Commonwealth Crossing’s development and the jobs it will bring to area residents,” he said.

Hurt mentioned that another industrial park in development, the “Berry Hill Mega Park” in Pittsylvania County, is “stalled because of the same unnecessary red tape that stalled Commonwealth Crossing.”

“To remedy these problems permanently,” he said, “I will continue working with my Virginia colleagues to pass the Commonsense Permitting for Job Creation Act, which will ensure that future economic development projects do not face the same regulatory hurdles as Commonwealth Crossing and Berry Hill and instead can focus on creating jobs for Virginians.”

“Congratulations to Martinsville and Henry County on the approval of the Commonwealth Crossing permit,” said Griffith, of Salem. “I applaud local officials, the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. and others in this community for their dedication to overcoming regulatory roadblocks, advancing this important project and creating jobs in Southern Virginia.”

Yet while the permit is “very good news,” Griffith said, “our work continues on advancing a legislative solution to the underlying issue in an effort to see that projects like this one are no longer held up because of ‘speculative development’ issues.”

Henry County Administrator Tim Hall said the federal lawmakers “were key pieces” in efforts to convince the corps to approve the permit.

“To see such a bipartisan effort was inspiring,” Hall said. “I am not sure we would have succeeded without them.”


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