Positioning the commonwealth for healthy economic growth drives the work of Dr. Stephen Moret, President and CEO of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP). On the job for almost a year, Moret asks the same question across every region of Virginia – What should the economic and business-growth aspirations be for our state?
“I have been blown away by the assets of Virginia” said Moret.
Virginia ranks high in educational attainment rates, features strong public schools/higher education, has attractive small sites for economic development, is a great mid-Atlantic location, offers low tax burdens for existing firms, and enjoys exceptional infrastructure assets (including airports, Port of Va. and spaceport).
There is also much room to grow. Virginia lacks a customized workforce incentive program akin to those in other competitive southeastern states. The commonwealth also ranks poorly with regard to expansion of existing firms and growth has slowed down so much that there are currently more people leaving Virginia for other states than people moving to Virginia, known as ‘outmigration.’
How to reverse these trends?
The answer to this question may lie partly in a growing partnership between VEDP and VCCS to create a turnkey, customized workforce attraction and recruitment training incentive program. Virginia would follow the lead of states like Georgia and Louisiana who have enjoyed much success in this arena.
Benefits of a customized workforce recruitment training incentive program include creating strong relationships with new and expanding businesses, galvanizing a greater demand for community college programs, capitalizing on opportunities to strengthen workforce programs, and ensuring a top-visibility route to highlight community college strengths.
“We really do believe that in addition to this being a way to attract more companies, it will also help strengthen the community colleges themselves and for us to be a better partner to you,” said Moret.
“When I think about the future I get excited because we have a plan to bring Virginia back to the top of the growth chart. I see incredible assets in the commonwealth and I believe we are at a special time in our history. My great hope it that we seize this moment and I see VCCS/VEDP partnership at the center of this effort.”
Looking forward to 2022, Moret envisions a Virginia ranked as the very best state for business, a rural Virginia fairing much better than economic trends forecast, and an influx of college graduates leaving neighboring states to more here. It will be exciting to see how this plays out in the coming months and beyond.
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