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Proposed state fund could help Kalahari
Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling calls for tourism development fund that could provide incentives to projects such as Kalahari Resorts

Date published: 9/22/2010


Virginia should create an incentives fund that can help attract tourism-related economic development such as Kalahari Resorts, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling said Monday night in Stafford County.

Bolling gave the keynote address at an event for local business leaders at the University of Mary Washington Stafford campus. The Fredericksburg Regional Alliance sponsored the gathering.

Bolling, whom Gov. Bob McDonnell tapped as the state's "chief jobs creation officer," said economic development that brings jobs is the administration's top priority. Among Bolling's recommendations is allowing the state to offer incentives toward tourism projects that can't now get them.

Bolling discussed the "huge economic impact" that projects such as Kalahari, which he mentioned by name, would have on the region and state.

Wisconsin-based Kalahari plans a $260 million waterpark, resort hotel and convention center in Fredericksburg's Celebrate Virginia South. But the company has been unable to find financing for the project. Company leaders met with McDonnell earlier this year to discuss ways to make it happen.

Bolling said tourism is a $19.2 billion annual business in Virginia that supports 210,000 jobs. He said Fredericksburg is a particularly attractive destination due to its history. He presented area tourism officials with a $25,000 marketing grant from the Virginia Tourism Corp. toward VacationFred ericksburg.com, a new website that will allow people to book all aspects of their vacation to the area.

Bolling said the private sector will create the jobs that help the economy recover, but he said it's critical that the state create an environment in which business can thrive. He's been meeting with CEOs in states such as California that have ample government regulations and high taxes, and trying to bring their companies here.

"Arnold Schwarzenegger might have bigger muscles," Bolling said, "but we've got lower taxes."

Bolling criticized the national government for spending beyond its means. He opposed a Department of Defense recommendation to cut the amount of money spent on defense contractors, and to possibly shut down the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk.

Bolling said the CEOs he speaks with tell him that companies are ready to invest but don't because of the "anti-business" policies of the federal government--such as cap and trade, card check, the sky-high national debt and health insurance mandates.

"These are policies that kill jobs and can drive the economy right back into recession," Bolling said.

Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405
Email: bfreehling@freelancestar.com