Gov. McAuliffe calls for major changes to state’s economic agency

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Governor Terry McAuliffe says he plans on shaking up the state’s economic development agency.

Twenty-one years ago, the General Assembly created the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP). The agency is responsible for bringing business to the commonwealth and boosting the state’s economy.

a91b6e1053b3485b849a3c63f131dd74For years VEDP has gotten millions of dollars to give to companies as an incentive to bring business to the state, but in the past two years, VEDP has come under fire.

“The lack of leadership and oversight as the norm is clearly unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” said the governor.

In 2014 VEDP helped secure $1.4 million to bring Chinese company Lindenburg to Appomattox, but the deal fell through after it was revealed Lindenburg used misleading information to get that money. The company never came and the state is still working on getting that money back.

“The tax payers deserve to know every single time their tax payer dollars were invested and they didn’t get back what they promised,” McAuliffe said.

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Last month, a state investigation revealed that the Lindenburg mishap wasn’t a one-time occurrence, citing a number of times companies given incentive money didn’t deliver on their promises.

“VEDP’s issues have continued through the terms of six governors but i am determined that we are going to fix them by the time this governor leaves office,” McAuliffe said.

The governor announced major changes Monday that he will introduce to lawmakers. He’s calling for the creation of a department to administer and track incentive programs and another to conduct periodic audits. He says the agency will for the first time report to the governor. McAuliffe says he believes the proposal will get bipartisan support.

“I think there is zero chance you are not going to see significant reforms brought to VEDP,” the governor added.

The governor made it a point to say he believes many talented people work for the agency but still believes it needs structural changes.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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