Robert Hurt: A bipartisan, bicameral effort to create jobs
During my time in Congress, I have been laser-focused on enacting pro-growth policies to provide hardworking people across the country opportunities for new, good-paying jobs in their communities. This remains my top priority, as too many Fifth District Virginians continue to look for work.
Our local officials work diligently to promote economic development in their communities, but in many cases, federal bureaucracy stands in the way of this vital work. Local officials in the Danville-Pittsylvania County area have long worked to acquire permits to develop the Berry Hill Mega-Park, a proposed economic development site aimed at attracting large new manufacturing enterprises. Boasting 3,500 acres of publicly-owned land, Berry Hill is the largest site of its kind in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the fifth largest on the East Coast, making it uniquely situated to generate economic activity. Unfortunately, a regulatory obstacle has impeded its progress and potential for dynamic job creation.
Pittsylvania County has made every effort to acquire necessary permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin site preparation for this vitally important project, but they have been denied at every turn because no company has publicly committed to building a facility and prepared detailed blueprints. But without these permits from the Corps, the likelihood of bringing manufacturing firms to this site is extremely low because, understandably, a company will not establish a facility at a site without an approved permit.
Unfortunately, this problem is not unique to Berry Hill, as local officials in Henry County and Martinsville encountered the same roadblock. They spent an inordinate amount of time and resources to resolve it, preventing them from putting that energy to use recruiting employers to the region. We have also seen similar examples in other parts of the country where the Corps is irrationally standing in the way of economic development.
The regulatory red tape preventing the advancement of these types of initiatives defies common sense. A legitimate, thorough permit application for an economic development site should not be denied because of a lack of commitment by a company for use when the parties involved fully understand the goals and purpose of the project. I recently joined with Congressman Morgan Griffith and Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner to introduce the Commonsense Permitting for Job Creation Act to remedy this issue.
This bipartisan, bicameral legislation specifies that the lack of a committed end-user company should not be a reason to deny a permit that meets all other legal requirements, effectively removing the regulatory roadblock that is preventing projects like the Berry Hill Mega Park from proceeding. The Commonsense Permitting for Job Creation Act is a major step toward resolving this catch-22 scenario and allowing our communities to attract the jobs we so desperately need.
I thank my colleagues, especially Congressman Griffith and Senators Kaine and Warner, for their strong support of the Commonsense Permitting for Job Creation Act. I look forward to working with them and state and local economic development leaders to make real progress toward job creation in Southside Virginia and removing the federal government as a roadblock to job creation across our nation.
If you need any additional information or if we may be of assistance to you, please visit my website at hurt.house.gov or call my Washington office: (202) 225-4711, Charlottesville office: (434) 973-9631, Danville office: (434) 791-2596, or Farmville office: (434) 395-0120.
Robert Hurt represents the Fifth District of Virginia in Congress.
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