Economic Development Policy Update




Update of the Economic Development Policy from 1995 to reflect current conditions




Messrs. Foley, Davis, Graham, Ms. Stimart







February 13, 2008


ACTION:     X          INFORMATION: 




  ACTION:              INFORMATION:   











The purpose of this discussion is to complete the review of the updated data that was started in December and to set direction for updating this policy. The current Economic Development Policy is overdue for review. Draft data was updated and provided to the Board of Supervisors for consideration in December of 2007 (See Attachment A). Beyond the review of this data, staff needs to understand what changes to the current policy the Board believes are appropriate and to establish the process for making those changes.


As presented to the Board in December, staff noted key trends from the updated data which include:

·         Lack of land for certain types of local business expansion

·         Significant loss of agricultural land, despite success in certain sectors (e.g., active grape production)

·         Limited opportunity for “career-ladder” jobs, due to

o        manufacturing layoffs

o        An increasing percentage of low-paying jobs associated with retail sales.



Enhance the Quality of Life for all Albemarle County Residents. 




Staff believes most of the goals, objectives, and strategies in the current policy remain relevant today; however, staff also recognizes this policy was established before adoption of the Neighborhood Model and recent major economic events (e.g., NAFTA). In updating the Policy, staff believes it is important to consider prioritizing strategies based on available resources, and the 5-year cycle of policy review required for any element of the Comprehensive Plan. Staff notes the current policy has proven easier to develop than to implement, with many of the strategies only minimally addressed.   From staff’s perspective, the issue has been that resources have been spread over a large number of issues, rather than focusing attention on a limited number of higher priority strategies.  


Staff believes the Goals and Objectives of this policy remain appropriate and the only changes needed would relate to new issues the Board indicates are appropriate for the policy.  Based on the staff analysis of data, there are areas upon which to improve and enhance. Of the six objectives, staff notes that the data suggests there are three compelling trends relating to at least five of our Policy’s objectives that require priority consideration:


·         Lack of LI land (Objective I, II, VI)

·         Workforce development (Objective III, V)

·         County’s agricultural economy (Objective I)


To address these trends, staff believes the Policy should recognize the following strategy priorities:


·         Increasing available land for local business expansion, with an emphasis on light-industrial zoning

·         Workforce development, with an emphasis on emerging business segments

·         Enhancing the economic viability of the rural economy with an emphasis on those segments that protect the rural character


At this point in the update process, staff would like the Board’s input before proceeding to initiate the Comprehensive Plan amendment with the Planning Commission.



None, but staff believes it is important to recognize there are limited resources available to work on implementation.  If efforts are spread over too many priorities, there will either be limited progress on the strategies or a demand will be created for additional resources.




Staff recommends the Board of Supervisors accept the updated data as appropriate for inclusion in an updated policy, and provide guidance to staff regarding priority areas of the policy.


In providing guidance on policy changes, staff’s recommendation is that efforts focus on the following strategy priorities:

1.       Increasing available land for local business expansion, with an emphasis on light industrial zoning 

2.       Workforce development, with an emphasis on emerging business segments 

3.       Enhancing the economic viability of the rural economy, with an emphasis on those segments that protect the rural character. 




Attachment A – Updated Data “Analysis & Findings”

Attachment B – Existing Policy

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