Virginia is not known for doling out massive sums on economic development incentive deals, but now it is giving $750 million (plus local incentives) to, Inc. for its second headquarters (HQ2) and $1.35 billion to Monumental Sports & Entertainment for moving sport teams from downtown Washington, DC to Arlington. 

Most incentive programs are administered by the semi-private Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP). Among the costliest programs are the Commonwealth’s Development Opportunity Fund, the Data Center Retail Sales and Use Tax Exemption, and custom grants provided to larger projects. 

The VEDP publishes status reports in PDF format for major grant programs. It also maintains an offsite database of grant programs, but that database has not been updated in a few years. Tax-based programs are poorly disclosed. Recipients of the tax exemption for data centers are nowhere to be found, even though it is the state’s highest revenue loss.  

Virginia is one of the three states that do not issue tax expenditure budgets. Annual and quarterly reports withs statistical information, including program costs but no recipients, are available for some grants and tax-based subsidies on the Legislative Information System website. The state reports the amount of taxes abated for the data center and film programs in its financial statements pursuant to Statement No. 77. Major cities generally report tax abatements; school districts do not (few even issue financial statements).  

Since 2014, the VEDP has been submitting annual reports to the General Assembly evaluating the effectiveness of its incentive grant programs as well as those administered by other agencies. The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) has also evaluated the film incentives in 2017, small business incentives in 2018, and data center and manufacturing incentives in 2019. All of these documents are downloadable as pdfs. 

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Last updated January 2024.

For more information, contact Kasia Tarczynska at [email protected].