With six strokes of a pen, Gov. Bob McDonnell signed legislation Tuesday its sponsors say will make Virginia more competitive in creating and retaining high-tech jobs.
Before a crowded room inside the newly opened Falls Church headquarters for Acentia, McDonnell (R) signed the Data Center Sales Tax Exemption (House Bill 216 and Senate Bill 112) and the Extending Virginia Telework Tax Credit bill (HB 551 and SB 238). Del. Barbara Comstock (R-34th District) introduced the bill, and Del. Mark Keam (D-35th District) signed on as a chief co-patron.
The bills expand the sales and use tax exemption for computer equipment or software by data centers by extending it to tenants of the centers and jobs created by them and extends the telework expenses tax credit for employers through the end of 2016; the current credit expires on Dec. 31, 2013.
Comstock grew ecstatic Tuesday as she talked to the crowd about how the bills could help persuade more businesses to relocate to Northern Virginia, saying the opportunity for growth in the area that could be driven by bringing more companies and jobs to the area.
"Virginia is number one for businesses because that's our focus," she said, adding she wants to do everything in her power to keep technology companies in Northern Virginia.
McDonnell said Northern Virginia is recognized around the country and world as a hub for growth in the technology field. With several technology and government contract companies relocating to Northern Virginia, McDonnell said the area has become a hotbed for data centers.
"I am very lucky to be in Virginia than anywhere else," Keam said Tuesday, noting that technology development creates ripples of jobs. "This is an industry that is very strong."
McDonnell said Forbes rated the Northern Virginia/Washington, D.C. area second overall for job growth in the technology field only behind Washington state. The desire to bring more technology jobs to the area has propelled bipartisan cooperation.
"We have more tech workers in Virginia that anywhere else other that California," McDonnell said.
This article has been corrected to list Del. Barbara Comstock (R-34th District) as the sponsor of House Bills 216, 551 and 1013.