As Prepared for Delegate Randy Minchew (R-Loudoun)
On July 1, 2016 a series of proposals known as the Virginia Initiative for Growth and Opportunity in Each Region (GO Virginia) became law.
As a member of the House of Delegates from Loudoun County, I am proud to have co-patroned part of the GO Virginia proposal and to work with legislators across the Commonwealth to adopt a program that incentivizes regional collaboration in economic development.
For a long time, Virginia became accustomed to a booming economy and high rankings in national business ratings. Unfortunately, we now face a long stretch of economic adversity. In 2014 we ranked 48th in the country for economic growth and are falling. Early this month, CNBC announced Virginia had slipped from 8th to 13th in the annual Best States for Business Report.
Something has to be done to reverse that slide. That is why the Virginia Business Higher Education Council launched GO Virginia in July of 2015.
GO Virginia is a coalition of Virginia’s business leaders, every public institution of higher education, the top economic development, workforce and business leaders in each region of the Commonwealth – including our own Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce. The coalition proposed a series of five proposals aimed at incentivizing regional collaboration to create more higher-paying jobs in Virginia.
First, the Commonwealth will promote innovation and growth through financial support for projects that promise substantial economic impact, leverage significant local, private and other investment, and reflect regional cooperation on industry growth, the alignment of education and training programs with employer demand, entrepreneurship and other private sector growth strategies. A 24 member business-led commonwealth board will oversee the disbursement of $35.95 million in GO! Grants.
Second, the Commonwealth will encourage cooperation, rather than competition, among localities in the recruitment of new business by returning a portion of the commonwealth revenues generated by projects to regions where localities share economic development-related costs and revenues.
Third, the Commonwealth will encourage collaboration between and among governments, school divisions, and higher education institutions, to foster improved performance and freeing up tax dollars for opportunity-focused initiatives in education, job training and economic development..
Fourth, the Commonwealth will encourage discoveries that lead to commercially viable products and services by providing matching-funds for labs, equipment and other research-related needs. The Virginia Research and Investment Fund and other vehicles were established to enhance efforts to attract scholars to Virginia research schools, renovate labs, and purchase equipment for research with commercial application.
Finally, the Commonwealth will invest $2.23 billion – including more than $1 billion for STEM focused facilities – at Virginia’s colleges and universities in projects that will produce strong returns in private-sector growth, diversification, and job creation through improved education and job-skills training, research, site development, communications and other infrastructure.
The key to success in any of these areas, however, is collaboration. In order to grow and prosper, we need to take action to diversify our regional economies. Virginia’s economy is simply the sum total of our regions. As we saw the Great Recession combined with the impact of sequestration caused Virginia to fall across a variety of indicators. We need to generate positive economic growth and GO Virginia is the catalyst.
You can learn more at www.GOVirginia.org.