For the week ending Feb. 18, 202
Members of the West Virginia House of Delegates passed multiple business development bills with overwhelming bipartisan support this week.
House Bill 4259, creating the West Virginia Small Business Jumpstart Act, was co-sponsored by House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, and House Minority Leader Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha. The measure passed the full House Feb. 16 with only two votes against it. The West Virginia Small Business Jumpstart Act is similar to the program model used in 18 other states. Rather than more traditional economic development programs that offer incentives directly to small businesses, HB4259 would provide incentives for raising private capital at the fund level.
“There was over $200 billion of investments out there for small businesses in the country last year,” Skaff explained Feb. 17 at the West Virginia Press Association’s Legislative Breakfast event. “None of it was in West Virginia. We want to switch that by offering incentives for those people to consider investing in rural West Virginia.”
The West Virginia Small Business Jumpstart Act would incentivize federally licensed Small Business Investment Companies and Rural Business Investment Companies with deep small business investment experience to raise up to $125 million in private capital to be used exclusively for West Virginia investments. The state would authorize insurance premium tax credits for those investment companies in later years of the program to help incentivize raising private capital. West Virginia small businesses with no more than 200 employees would be able to receive as much as $5 million in investments through the program, and the state could rescind its tax credits if the funds aren’t invested properly.
“We know many of the investments that come to West Virginia in the single-digit, million-dollar investment scale can change communities,” Hanshaw said. “We know all the reasons West Virginia is the best place in the country to live, work and play, but our aspiring entrepreneurs and small businesses are starved for venture capital investment.
“This bill would not only help to fill that need, but it also would help create an investment culture here in West Virginia that’s desperately needed.”
Members overwhelmingly passed both House Bill 4025, which would provide temporary severance tax relief to encourage economic development of rare earth elements and critical minerals, and House Bill 4568, which would expand our historic structure tax credit to allow county, municipal or private industry developers to do restoration or renovation work in phases. House Bill 4002, which would create the Certified Sites and Development Readiness Program, and House Bill 4465, which would broaden the current apprenticeship training tax credit, both passed the full House unanimously this week.
As of Feb. 18, a total of 21 bills had completed legislation. The regular legislative session ends at midnight March 12.