Prince William County’s Department of Economic Development announced a year of record achievement in 2020 with the completion of 40 projects, expected to add $2.4 billion in capital investment and 1,531 new jobs to the county. With 29 new business attractions, 8 expansions of existing businesses and 3 business retentions, approximately 99% of the new jobs will be in a range of industry sectors targeted by the county, including life sciences and biotechnology, IT, data centers, advanced manufacturing, federal contracting and distribution.
In rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department shifted focus to economic stabilization and recovery while simultaneously executing its planned work program. The county established a multipronged framework of grant and incentive programs to provide much-needed relief to its business community, particularly its small businesses and displaced workers. The Prince William Board of County Supervisors appropriated $16 million of CARES Act and economic development funds to establish the following programs:
- Capital Investment and Innovation Grant – provided funding up to $200,000 per business for 127 businesses that needed to make physical improvements to adhere to health and safety guidelines to operate safely or to make capital investments in innovative business models.
- Small Business Relief Micro-Grant – provided grant assistance totaling $4.7 million to 640 businesses that experienced a loss in revenues. Grants up to $50,000 were provided to qualified businesses.
- ELEVATE – provided no-cost employment assistance to 188 residents and 59 businesses in collaboration with Virginia Career Works.
- Construction and Renovation Permit Rebate – provided 13 businesses with assistance to begin new construction projects by offering rebates of up to $2,000 for permitting fees.
- Small Business Technical Assistance – provided business counseling to 57 small businesses that needed one-on-one technical assistance. Additionally, the county partnered with the Mason Small Business Development Center to provide enhanced technical services up to $10,000 per business in digital marketing and e-commerce, financial planning and IT services, to ensure business viability.
- IGNITE Grant – provided grants up to $50,000 for businesses and entrepreneurs who have a start-up idea or new business.
- FireUp Business Mentoring and Coaching – supported eligible small businesses by pairing them up with coaches and giving them one-on-one access to expertise in business strategy, marketing and finance.
- Be Safe, Work Safe – provided a webinar series for businesses to provide them with guidelines based on best practices for maintaining a safe and healthy workplace and keeping their business open.
“We are forever grateful for the assistance and guidance we received from Prince William County during this time of crisis,” said Cathy Madigan, co-owner of Madigan’s Waterfront. “Not only were we able to receive much-needed funding to continue operations and keep our employees, but the support and counseling we received from the Department of Economic Development made all the difference and has further reinforced why chose to locate in Prince William County.”
By joining forces with other county agencies, the Department was able to support quick pivots for the business community, such as partnering with the Department of Development Services and the Office of Tourism to grant temporary activity permits to 14 restaurants, dining and craft beverage establishments to accommodate temporary outdoor dining and curbside pickup.
The Department also coordinated with the county’s Emergency Operations Center, the Prince William Chamber of Commerce and the Office of Tourism through its #PrinceWilliamStrong Pledge campaign to assist in the distribution of personal protective equipment (PPEs) to over 200 businesses to facilitate their safe re-opening and continued operation.
The Department continued to leverage relationships with regional partners to deliver informational resources for businesses and displaced workers. In collaboration with the Northern Virginia Economic Development Alliance, the Department supported two popular webinar series on building business resiliency and providing real-world examples of companies that have succeeded in turning disruption into success.
“While we are extremely pleased with our achievements particularly in a year fraught with so many extraordinary challenges,” said Christina Winn, executive director of the Prince William County Department of Economic Development. “What we are most proud of is our local businesses and residents who have persevered and stayed the course, some even pitching in to assist with reopening and recovery efforts. They are a true testament to the strength and resiliency of our community and will, in no small measure, determine our success going forward.”