Va. auditors examine grants to businesses

There have been cheers from football fans, but also some grumbling about “corporate welfare” since it was announced last week that the Washington Redskins will get $6.4 million in government money to expand their training facilities in Ashburn and move their summer training camp to Richmond.


Robert Griffin III (10) during drills with teammates at Redskins Park on June 7 in Ashburn. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

Government auditors aim to provide an answer, in a general sense, this fall.

Virginia's Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission is studying the effectiveness of state economic development incentive grants to see if they pay off in terms of jobs and investments.

The review, begun in January and expected to be completed in November, will not look specifically at the Redskins deal because it’s too new, JLARC staff said. But it will examine similar economic development incentive grants to see if they’ve borne fruit.

JLARC staff provided an overview of the study to commission members at a meeting Monday.

The study was mandated by a bill sponsored in 2011 by Sen. Janet D. Howell (D-Fairfax), a commission member.

Economic development grants have grown substantially in recent years. Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, who ran on the slogan “Bob’s for jobs,” has sought to entice companies to relocate to the state or expand existing operations here.

The state has 18 different economic development grant programs, which together provided $88 million in grants to businesses in fiscal 2011. That’s nearly double the amount approved in 2007.

Laura Vozzella covers Virginia politics for The Washington Post.

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