Major Eligible Employer Grant Program (MEE)
The Major Eligible Employer Grant Program (MEE) is a discretionary program used to encourage major basic employers to invest in Virginia and to provide a significant number of stable employment opportunities by either making a significant expansion to existing operations or constructing new ones. There must be an active and realistic competition between Virginia and another state or country for attracting the project.
The amount of each grant is determined by the Secretary of Commerce and Trade, based in part on the Virginia Economic Development Partnership’s (VEDP) Return-on-Investment analysis and recommendation, and is subject to the approval of the Governor.
All projects must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Project must be affiliated with a basic employer, meaning 51% or more of the facility’s revenue must be generated outside the Commonwealth.
- There must be an active and realistic competition between Virginia and another state or country for attracting the project.
- Minimum capital investment threshold is $100 million.
- “Capital investment” means an investment in real property, tangible personal property, or both at a manufacturing or nonmanufacturing facility within the Commonwealth.
- Minimum job creation threshold of 1,000 net new jobs (threshold lowered to 400 jobs if the average pay is at least twice the locality’s prevailing average wage).
- "New job" means employment of an indefinite duration for which the firm pays wages and standard fringe benefits for its employee, requiring a minimum of either (i) 35 hours of the employee's time a week for the entire normal year of the firm's operations, which "normal year" must consist of at least 48 weeks or (ii) 1,680 hours per year.
- At the discretion of VEDP, jobs may include teleworking positions, held by Virginia residents, who are employees of the recipient company or its affiliates.
Public announcement of the project must be coordinated by VEDP and the Governor’s Office.
- The project is initiated with a VEDP Business Investment Manager.
- Due Diligence Review – In order for a MEE to be awarded, projects are subject to a due diligence review process. During this process, a VEDP Business Investment Manager works with the company to attain the information required to begin the project review process, including company information, financials, and investment and jobs information.
- VEDP then performs a Return-on-Investment (ROI) analysis and risk assessment for the project.
- The project is then reviewed by VEDP’s Project Review and Credit Committee (PRACC) (1-2 weeks, subject to all necessary documentation being provided).
- If approved by PRACC, the proposed incentive award is forwarded to the Secretary of Commerce and Trade for preliminary approval (approximately 1 week).
- If the proposed MEE grant amount is in excess of $10 million, VEDP seeks the approval of the Major Employment and Investment Project Approval Commission (approximately 3 weeks).
- VEDP delivers a financial proposal to the company.
- The company accepts or rejects the offer.
- An MEE application is submitted. The application consists of a detailed letter sent by the company to VEDP.
- A performance agreement is drafted and reviewed by company.
- The Governor reviews the incentive for final approval or rejection (approximately 2 weeks).
- A press release is issued and/or an announcement event is scheduled.
- The company submits annual performance reports indicating progress toward achieving capital investment and employment performance targets.
- Beginning with the third fiscal year after the capital investment and job creation are completed, the Commonwealth makes five to seven equal annual grant payments to the company, up to a maximum of $25 million.
The company will be asked to provide annual reports indicating progress toward achieving its investment and employment performance targets. Reports include:
- Initial Company Notification – The performance agreement will require the company to notify VEDP in writing within 90 days of completion of the capital investment and any new job creation or existing job maintenance, certifying the amount of capital investment, and the number of net new jobs created and maintained at the facility, the average annual wage rates paid to such employees, and an indication whether the company has provided a benefits package to its standard employees.
- Annual Progress Report – During the performance period and the payout period for the grant, the company will be asked to annually verify the level of capital investment, new jobs, and wages and (during the payment period) to note whether the facility continues to be operated at substantially the same level as existed at the time the capital investment was completed.
- Verification of New Jobs: Companies will be asked to report the number of jobs created and maintained through the performance period and the payment period, and the average annual wage for those jobs.
- Verification of Capital Investment: Companies will be asked to report the amount and type of capital investment made through the performance period, by broad categories (e.g., land, land improvement or machinery, fixtures and equipment).
How are awards calculated?
There is no formula for calculating the amount of the grant award. In determining grant amounts, the following criteria are considered: a Return-on-Investment analysis, new jobs, wage levels, overall employment, capital investment, area and regional unemployment, poverty and fiscal stress, the locality’s interest in the project, and company growth potential.
How long does the company have to make its qualifying investment?
In general, project completion will occur within three years, but no more than five years, from the date the performance agreement is signed.
What is prevailing average wage?
"Prevailing average wage" is the amount determined by the Virginia Employment Commission to be the average wage paid to workers in the city or county of the Commonwealth where the economic development project is located. The prevailing average wage will be determined without regard to any fringe benefits.
What happens if the statutory minimums are not met or maintained?
If the company does not achieve the statutory minimum capital investment requirement of $100 million or the statutory minimum number of new jobs, no MEE grant payment will be made. If the company achieves the statutory minimums, but does not achieve at least 50% of the capital investment or jobs goals stated in the performance agreement, no MEE grant payment will be made.
What happens if the capital investment does not remain in place or if employment is not maintained during the payout period?
MEE grant installment payments are subject to the conditions that (i) the capital investment remains in place during the payment period, (ii) the new jobs are maintained during the payment period, and (iii) the facility continues to operate throughout the payment period at substantially the same level as existed at the time of completion of the capital investment. If the capital investment does not remain in place, if the new jobs are not maintained, or if the facility is no longer so operated, the performance agreement will require the company to provide immediate notice to VEDP. In the event that conditions (i), (ii), or (iii) are no longer met, the installment payments on the MEE grant will cease, but the company will not be required to return any MEE grant installments previously paid.
What positions do not qualify as new jobs?
Seasonal or temporary positions, positions created when a job function is shifted from an existing location in the Commonwealth, and positions with construction contractors, vendors, suppliers, and similar multiplier or spin-off jobs shall not qualify as new jobs.
Are contract employees allowed to count as new jobs?
The Commonwealth will consider dedicated, full-time, Virginia-based contractors as eligible net new jobs should the company desire to count them toward the new job targets. The requirements for contract positions are the same as those positions on the company’s payroll and would be required to meet the same requirements as a “new job.”
Can the company receive multiple MEE grants?
An applicant may be granted more than one MEE grant at a time if the scope of each project has a different timeframe and independently meets the minimum investment and all other criteria.
For a project investment and employment occurring in phases or stages, however, the Commonwealth will consider it as one project if: (i) the entire investment and employment are announced at one time, (ii) the phases are clearly related to one project, and (iii) the entire investment and employment proceeds normally to substantial completion, without extraordinary delays. If these conditions are met, the negotiated amount will reflect the entire single investment.
What programs are included within the Virginia Investment Partnership Act?
The Virginia Investment Partnership Act comprises the Virginia Investment Performance Grant (VIP), the Major Eligible Employer Grant (MEE), and the Virginia Economic Development Incentive Grant (VEDIG).
Can the company participate in multiple performance incentive programs under the Virginia Investment Partnership Act at the same time?
Companies are only allowed to participate in one program per project under the Virginia Investment Partnership Act at any given time.