Albemarle County Board of Supervisors

took action today to create a $250,000 “jobs development opportunity fund” (renamed from an “economic development opportunity fund”) and to join the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce [

see agenda item

]. Both initiatives received significant discussion and were approved by identical 4-2 votes with Sally Thomas (Samuel Miller) and Dennis Rooker (Jack Jouett) voting against. Backers of the “jobs fund” emphasized that no funds were being allocated today for any specific employers. The goal is to have the fund replenish itself by allocating back to the fund tax dollars raised from employers supported by any future allocations.

Each Supervisor that voted for the “jobs fund” emphasized somewhat different objectives which included: attracting new employers to come here who might be reluctant to locate in Albemarle because of our low unemployment rate; the need for job training of existing citizens who have lost manufacturing jobs; the need for addressing the underemployment of our workforce; and the desire to attract non-polluting employers who would hire largely from within our existing labor pool and residents.

Mr. Rooker and Ms. Thomas suggested the “jobs fund” should be considered at a future meeting after receiving more feedback and data from staff. Mr. Rooker said he could not support creating the fund, in part, because of public feedback in the County’s citizen survey which identified that a majority of residents are concerned about the pace of growth and the County’s ability to manage it properly. Mr. Rooker didn’t think public dollars were needed to attract more employers and further population growth than what was already expected to happen.

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Brian Wheeler

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