Tourism Zone

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The Tourism Zone corresponds to the commercially zoned area of downtown and is aimed at bringing more arts-related businesses and retail establishments to the downtown core.

Who is eligible to qualify for the town’s Tourism Zone Incentives? 

To qualify, the following criteria must be met:

  1. Lease or own a business in the Downtown Commercial Zoning District. The boundary of the Tourism Zone is the boundary of the Downtown Commercial District.
  2. Be a new business. Relocations or expansions of existing businesses do not qualify.
  3. Be a “qualified tourism zone resident” as defined below with an investment in improvements of $15,000. This can be investment by the owner, lessee or combination.
  4. Operate an arts related business that meets the definition of “qualified tourism business” as defined below.

    “Qualified tourism zone resident” means an owner or tenant of real property located in the downtown tourism zone who expands or rehabilitates such property to locate the operation of a qualified tourism business within the tourism zone. The minimum dollar amount of the proposed improvements shall be fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000.00). The term “property” means a parcel, lot or unit for which a site plan or building permit application has been submitted for approval. Qualification of a zone resident shall be granted and certified in writing by the town manager or the manager's designee. A qualified zone resident shall only be eligible for the fee reimbursements under town ordinance. 

    “Qualified tourism business” means a new business (including for profit or not-for-profit organizations) in the downtown tourism zone primarily engaged in (i) presenting live performances of theatre, dance music, or other imaginative work or (ii) producing or exhibiting physical works of art created by, or under the direction of, one or more artists that are intended for unique production or limited reproduction.  Museums or historic sites, the primary use of which is education, history or historic preservation, shall also qualify as qualified tourism businesses, as well as (iii) retail businesses (not including restaurants).  A qualified tourism business shall provide a minimum capital investment of fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000.00) in improvements to real estate located in the downtown tourism zone.  Qualification shall be granted and certified in writing by the town manager or the manager’s designee.

 Leslie Roberts Gregg painting Winter Warmth. Shows a child wearing a scarf facing the camera.
Leslie Roberts Gregg Winter Warmth

Financial Incentives

The incentives in this program are in the form of rebates to fees paid to the Town of Blacksburg. The fees will be rebated to the entity that paid the fee after the business has been in operation for one year.  The application for rebate and funds disbursed will be from the Town Manager’s office.

  1. Rebate of Business, Professional and Occupational License taxes
    • 100% rebate in year one
    • 75% rebate in year two
    • 50% rebate in year three

      The fee reimbursements provided below shall apply to qualified tourism businesses and, where applicable, qualified zone residents, for new construction, alterations and rehabilitation, provided (i) that at least one hundred (100) percent of the total cost of the construction is expended on facilities which will house or directly accommodate a qualified tourism business; and (ii) that the application for fee reimbursements is submitted to the town manager within eighteen (18) months from the date a certificate of occupancy is issued. Fees reimbursed pursuant to this article shall be paid out by the town manager, in conjunction with the finance director.  Applications for reimbursement of the fees set out below shall be made to the town manager, along with supporting documentation demonstrating that the application meets the criteria for fee reimbursement:
  2. Rebate of other town fees:
    • Rebate of any building permit fees (less 2% remitted to the state) up to a maximum of $2,000;
    • Rebate of fees from water and sewer connection; and
    • Rebate of fees from any subdivision or site plan review.

What is the process to be considered?

It is best to go through the qualification process ahead of time to better understand the incentive values and the types of documentation needed to collect the rebated fees.  A staff member will meet with you to answer questions and assist with the application process. To schedule a meeting call 540-961-1126. Town staff from the Planning and Building Department, Finance Department, Town Attorney and Town Manager’s office will review the application.

Map of the Tourism Zone (PDF)
Opening a business in downtown Blacksburg

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