Virginia is not known for doling out prodigious sums on economic development incentive deals, but it is giving $750 million (plus local incentives) to Amazon.com, Inc. for its second headquarters (HQ2).
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 and the Data Center Retail Sales and Use Tax Exemption.
The VEDP publishes status reports for some programs, but only the ones within in the past year or two are available. It also maintains an offsite database of grant programs that can be filtered by program name, locality, agency, company, year, and date, downloaded as an Excel spreadsheet, and used to see if companies have met their milestones. 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. 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.