Top 5 impacts of economic development

According to the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), economic development is the intentional practice of improving a community’s economic well-being and quality of life. Here in Greater Richmond, Virginia, the Greater Richmond Partnership (GRP) serves as the lead regional economic development organization for the Richmond Region. GRP works in partnership with the local economic development authorities at the City of Richmond and the counties of ChesterfieldHanover and Henrico, as well as with the state-led Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP).

Here are our thoughts on the top five impacts of economic development:

  1. Brings job opportunities to RVA

Economic developers provide critical support and information to companies that create jobs in our community. When a new company locates in the region, they hire within the community for newly-created jobs or recruit new residents to the area. By attracting more companies to the region, the pipeline of available jobs widens which provides residents with more opportunities. GRP focuses on recruiting companies who are not already located in the region in partnership with our localities. Our localities then capture those opportunities by providing outstanding customer service such as permitting and providing ongoing support to ensure the companies which choose Greater Richmond not only stay but grow here. ChamberRVA works to ensure Greater Richmond is a good environment in which businesses want to operate. It is all of the partners in the region that help to support a healthy local economy.

  1. Promotes the region worldwide

Much like Richmond Region Tourism promotes RVA as a great place for visitors and meetings, GRP promotes the region globally as an ideal place for companies to locate their businesses. We do this through marketing efforts with our website, videos and content marketing. Our dedicated business development professionals meet with companies in key markets both in person and virtually that align with our key industries. We also develop and nurture long-term relationships with site selectors, as over 50 percent of all site location decisions go through a site selector.

  1.  Strengthens and diversifies the regional economy

Thoughtful and coordinated economic development diversifies the economy and works to minimize the effects of an economic downturn. GRP works to recruit companies in targeted industry clusters including Middle Office, Data Centers, BioScience, Advanced Manufacturing, Supply Chain, and Food & Beverage.

  1. Supports talent recruitment and retention

“Can we hire our next workforce in Greater Richmond?” That’s the first question asked by every company we talk to. So that’s why it’s imperative for our region to continue to develop, train and recruit quality workers companies need. Companies often desire to relocate employees to their new location and we help in that process by offering tours and specialized presentations of the region. Economic developers also partner with the Community College Workforce Alliance to provide custom-designed training for companies looking to hire residents who may need credentials for their new job.

  1. New investments help the community thrive

Increased presence of companies in the region leads to economic prosperity of the community. Through increased tax revenue stemming from capital investment by these companies, local infrastructure and community projects can be funded. Schools, parks and even non-profit organizations benefit from new companies entering the local economy.


The Greater Richmond Partnership is celebrating Economic Development Week (May 4 – 9) along with economic development organizations across the world and the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).

Top 10 ways GRP is responding to COVID-19

From Lara L. Fritts, CEcD, President and CEO of the Greater Richmond Partnership

Coming into my role as President and CEO, back in August, I never could have anticipated a dramatic change in the global economy – just seven months into my tenure. For several years, economists have been predicting another economic downturn. Being conservative as an organization, we had begun positioning ourselves for a sustainable future. This planning has allowed us to be able to retain our staff, plan for the future of global business recruitment, and assure the Greater Richmond Region is positioned as a preferred business location.  However, I am keenly aware that our success is predicated on the ability for our region to recover and come back stronger and more resilient than ever. We are proud to serve as a resource for our region. Here are a few of the specific ways we have been serving the Greater Richmond business community during this difficult time:

  1. Continuing our business outreach efforts. While corporate site selection prospects have put a pause on their projects, we are confident that by the fourth quarter of this calendar year we will see activity resume. As a result, we continue to proactively identify companies in our targeted industry clusters who are considering relocating or expanding their operations. In fact, we just concluded our first-ever virtual international economic development mission where we had very productive conversations with corporate leaders.
  2. Coordinating. The GRP staff participate in multiple calls per week with our local, state and community partners where we are planning for the region’s economic future and providing assistance during this time of great need.
  3. Serving as a resource. As with many other organizations, we created a COVID-19 resource page for those looking for information. We also have been fielding calls from our investors and making connections for assistance.
  4. Moving from a research focus to a business intelligence mindset. While GRP is an external facing organization charged with marketing to and recruiting new businesses to the region, we have provided research and analysis to assist our local economic development partners in decision-making and outreach to businesses in their localities. Our research team has enhanced efforts to predict companies who are looking for regions which can assist them in solving their business challenges – be it a lower cost of doing business or access to supply chains.
  5. Shifting our approach. Our staff effortlessly adjusted to working from home – and we have found ways to remain connected to each other. Technology platforms have allowed us to shift our business development from in person meetings to virtual without skipping a beat. Additionally, we are exploring new ways to continue to leverage technology moving forward.
  6. Leveraging social media. We’ve utilized our social media channels to disseminate information about what programs, policies and best practices our localities and partners are deployed during this critical time.
  7. Storytelling. We’re sharing examples of how our region leans into challenges – like how companies and government entities in the region are pivoting their operations in support of the COVID-19 fight.
  8. Providing thought leadership. I am proud to be a part of the economic profession and am always grateful to share with my experience with colleagues. Recently, I was a guest on two podcasts, Consultant Connect and Develop This discussing how the GRP is tackling the challenges facing our profession. Additionally, Business Facilities picked up our blog post on how logistics firms are pivoting operations and shared it with all of their followers.
  9. Planning. We had just finalized our strategic plan looking toward 2030 as COVID hit our region. We utilized this time to review with our consultants at IBM Plant Location International the information, and revise as appropriate. Thankfully, all of the strategies outlined are sound and hold true through post-pandemic. Additionally, we crafted a recovery plan for the organization and are working with local partners to devise a coordinated one for the region based on best practices from states and regions across the country.
  10. Finding new ways to partner. Economic development and recovery is a team sport. Working together with our public and private partners we are utilizing this time of crisis as fuel for innovation. This means partnering in new ways. The GRP team with our friends at ChamberRVA and Richmond Region Tourism, are discovering how as separate organizations we can support each other and also our business community.

As we all look forward to being on the other side of the curve, the Greater Richmond Partnership is ready and remains committed to enhancing jobs and investment in our community. This challenging moment in our communities history, makes me proud to be a part of the Greater Richmond region. Please reach out if we can be of service to you.

Five ways to support the RVA economy right now

From Lara L. Fritts, CEcD, President and CEO of the Greater Richmond Partnership

As we face the COVID-19 pandemic together we must also support our economy together. Not everyone will contract the virus – but everyone will be affected by the implications of the pandemic to our economy.

According to Chris Chmura, from RVA-based Chmura Economics and Analytics, the Greater Richmond region ranks 298 out of 384 MSAs, meaning we are less vulnerable to an economic downturn than many other MSAs across the country. This is due to the strong mix of different industry clusters in region and is based on national forecasts with industry employment data.

While we are poised to recover, it doesn’t mean we will be immune to this economic downturn so here are five things you can do to support our economy.

    1. Seek out information from trusted sources. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Commonwealth of Virginia sites have the most up-to-date information.  Businesses should follow these two critical websites as well as ChamberRVA and your local communities’ websites (Chesterfield, Hanover, Henrico or the City of Richmond). These websites are packed with information for individuals and businesses. There is a ton of misinformation circulating – so be sure to stay informed and listen to trusted sources as they provide guidance.
    2. Support your local economy. The most impacted industry sector will be our restaurants and retail businesses – yet these are the businesses that make our community special and help the Greater Richmond Partnership sell our quality of life. Even with mandated social distancing we can “shop local” by purchasing gift certificates, take out from restaurants and from local businesses online. My favorite meme was “your local store supported your kid’s baseball team, now support them.”
    3. Remember: slow and steady wins the race. Let me start by saying the Greater Richmond region is open for business. While the way (and where) we are working might have changed, we are still talking to companies about their expansion/relocation plans and we expect to make announcements on projects as soon as we come out of this unprecedented time. For over 25 years, the Greater Richmond Partnership has served as the region’s national and international sales team. The last six months we have been focused on planning our marketing, go-to-market strategy and improving our competitive position so we can continue be laser focused when selling our region. Yes, it is an unprecedented time, and recessions we have endured before don’t compare, but know that this too shall pass and we are poised for prosperity.
    4. Have confidence in our leaders. Our leaders in the counties of Chesterfield, Hanover, Henrico and the City of Richmond have ensured the financial viability of our communities, they have already put into place policies and programs to help our companies sustain. We have federal Senators and Representatives who worked through the difficult task of putting together a stimulus package that will help to keep people across our great nation employed. The Governor and our partners at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership are working to design programs and policies to supporting the businesses of the Commonwealth.
    5. Stay home. The sooner the virus is contained, the sooner we can return to business and our economy can start to recover. So please do your part to stop the spread.

Affordable housing: A key element of economic development

From Lara L. Fritts, CEcD, President and CEO of the Greater Richmond Partnership

A few months ago, I was talking with a fellow economic development professional who asked me, why I cared about affordable housing because in his words, “affordable housing isn’t economic development.” In his view economic development is meant to help companies facilitate new job creation, enhance the community’s tax base, and provide opportunities for increasing household incomes. However, what happens when a community is so successful in its economic development efforts that the supply of housing decreases and prices escalate so quickly that jobs and income growth don’t keep up?

Having relocated to the Greater Richmond region from Salt Lake City where I served as the Director of the Department of Economic Development, I have seen firsthand the challenges that may occur when population growth accelerates, and housing prices increase at a rapid pace. The Salt Lake City Mayor and Council were committed to addressing affordability by adopting the city’s first ever housing plan — Grow SLC — laying the groundwork for reallocating funding within the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City (RDA), a division of the Department of Economic Development. The RDA, per state legislation, is required to put 10 percent of new tax growth in the tax increment districts aside for funding of affordable housing. These funds (plus the reallocation) allowed the RDA to invest approximately $44 million in affordable housing over the course of three years. This meant over 2,500 units of affordable housing for all income levels as well as almost 5,000 units of market rate units. In addition, the Mayor and Council held a referendum to increase the sales tax with a portion going toward an ongoing stream of funding for affordable housing.

Why would the Salt Lake City Mayor and Council want to make such a bold investment?  Because they felt affordable housing was economic development.  In my opinion, there are a few keys to why this is true:

  1. Transportation/Infrastructure. Without affordable housing in the region, lower income employees are forced to move further and further out in order to find housing options. This displacement puts stress on infrastructure and transportation by commuters as their trips become longer and traffic increases. More commuters lead to longer commute times and a reduced quality of life, making recruitment of companies difficult. If employees rely on public transportation, the need for route expansion would increase the expense to the regional transportation system.
  1. Workforce. A lack of affordable housing can not only alter the reliability of employees, but it can also decrease retention and attraction rates. Individuals in the workforce are more likely to select places of employment that are located near affordable housing, leading to enhanced reliability of employee attendance. A reliable workforce is essential to the success of a company. In addition, if a region has affordable housing for all income levels of the workforce, the attraction for talent, and thus employers increases, creating more economic development opportunities.
  1. Homelessness. The worst-case scenario is the increasing cost forces tenant eviction. Now, individuals are forced to use social service agencies, or to move farther away from their job where transportation may not be as reliable.
  1. Diversification. Having a housing strategy that encourages affordable units to be mixed in with market rate, reduces pockets of concentrated poverty. Instead of marginalizing persons of lower incomes into underfunded areas, mixed income housing creates opportunities for people to benefit from neighborhood resources and have higher chances of changing their economic status.
  1. Economic Development. Most new affordable housing is developed on sites that are underutilized by either being blighted or low density. Building new housing increases the value of the property, and ultimately, increases the taxable value of the site. More housing makes a region more attractive to talent and employers as it keeps the cost of living low. Individuals have more disposable income to support cultural amenities, retail and restaurants if their housing is affordable allowing for an enhanced quality of life.

The Partnership for Housing Affordability just released a new study called the Richmond Regional Housing Framework that identifies a deficit of over 29,000 affordable units of housing and covers many of these points. It was developed to “help position the region as a global destination for business investment and as a unique place to call home with a variety of housing options for all.”

The report includes the following goals with priority solutions, outlining responsible partners for each  with a plan for measuring success and tracking progress. The goals include:

  • Increase the supply of affordable rental housing in the region.
  • Support racially inclusive wealth creation by increasing homeownership opportunities for low- and moderate-income households.
  • Ensure that our growing senior population is safely and affordably housed.
  • Improve housing quality and ensure better health and safety for residents.
  • Expand housing stability and stop displacement.
  • Expand housing choices for moderate- and low-income households.

To read the full report, click here.

There are direct correlations between a region having affordable housing and enhanced economic development. This correlation is why I believe affordable housing is economic development. When the Greater Richmond Partnership promotes the Richmond Region to prospective companies, we often cite the region’s competitive cost of housing and our great quality of life. With the continued population growth in the Greater Richmond region, it will be important to be mindful to include affordable housing for all income levels in development plans in order to remain a competitive location for business.

GRP Statement on Navy Hill

The Greater Richmond region’s robust economy and talented workforce are keys to helping recruit new businesses. Still, it’s important for our local partners to seek means to elevate the region further as a global business destination. One way in which this can be accomplished is through enhancing economic and cultural opportunities, which in turn attract both people and companies.

The Greater Richmond Partnership supports projects which aggressively generate economic opportunities, create quality jobs for all the citizens of the region while increasing the tax base for needed community services. The Navy Hill project has the potential to do just that.

The project would complement existing regional assets such as the Greater Richmond Convention Center where business leaders visit RVA often for the first time. In addition, our region is in dire need of additional office space, housing options and cultural amenities all of which are important components. Taken together, these factors work to support GRP’s efforts to locate new domestic and international companies in the region while continuing to strengthen our region’s economy.

Clint Heiden, Chief Revenue Officer of QTS Realty Trust, Inc., discussed the Richmond area Network Access Point (NAP) — where data center, subsea fiber and terrestrial networks converge — as a factor in drawing large technology and Internet companies to Greater Richmond.

QTS, a leading provider of data center solutions, along with Telxius, a telecom infrastructure provider responsible for subsea Internet cables MAREA and BRUSA, created the new Richmond NAP. The NAP allows customers to complete high-speed international networking without having to collocate in or connect through the Ashburn, Va., mega center.

“The subsea cables that terminate in Richmond have opened an amazing opportunity for Henrico County to become a LOCUS for both domestic and international applications. That gives good reason for the creation of the QTS Richmond NAP, a place where multiple providers and Internet services can meet, connect and reach the international cables that link Virginia to other parts of the world.” – Vint Cerf, Chief Evangelist for Google, also known as one of the co-inventers of the Internet.

The Richmond NAP will offer the fastest, lowest-latency connectivity in North America from the U.S. to Southern Europe, Latin and South America.

Heiden responded to several questions on the Richmond NAP and why the world’s largest technology and Internet companies are coming to Henrico County:

Q. Why is it an opportune time for infrastructure investment?

A. The confluence of the MAREA/BRUSA next-generation subsea cables and the QTS Richmond NAP are establishing Richmond as the premier North American global interconnection hub. There have been some significant investments in Henrico recently. In just two years since the cable landing deployment, Henrico County accounted for 53% of announced statewide investments in Data Processing and Hosting, compared to just 6% during the nine-year period from 2008 to 2016, according to Mangum Economics for the Northern Va. Technology Council in 2018.

It’s amazing when you consider the technology and business influence global leaders have. Their interest validates the importance of the subsea cables terminating in Henrico County and the business ecosystems that are being created. In addition to the obvious value to Henrico, this new NAP is important to the growth of the Internet and its data flow allowing for a bypass of Ashburn, which is becoming congested and overly expensive.

Q. What are the forces driving the Richmond NAP?

A. If you think your business is not a data business, then you are late to the game. Just think about banking: if I can’t bank online I’ll switch to another bank. Likewise, if you don’t understand that once on the Internet your business is global, then you’re missing growth opportunities and not thinking big enough. The NAP addresses both of these issues. In addition, new applications and services are generating staggering increases in data production that are fueling dramatic growth in demand for local, regional, national and global connectivity that rely on subsea cables as the cornerstone for global interconnection and transmission.

Richmond is an ideal geographic location for North American continental access of subsea cables and all forms of interconnection mentioned previously. The QTS Richmond NAP is one of the world’s largest carrier-neutral data centers as well as a business-friendly environment. Facebook has begun their multi-billion investment adjacent to the Richmond NAP, along with Bank of America and Kinsale Insurance who are expanding their operations in Henrico County. These are just three of many enterprises making major investments in data-driven infrastructure in the region. The region is also creating a business ecosystem for entrepreneurial firms and is becoming an area of incubation for startups led by students coming out of leading surrounding state universities.

Q. What are the technological advancements making the QTS Richmond NAP a reality?

A. Good question and it’s about more than just technology. Henrico County has been at the forefront of attracting investment from network and data center providers due to a combination of business-friendly policies, attractive land for development, scalable power and a highly educated workforce in the county and surrounding areas. As a result, the area has a rich tapestry of existing fiber networks, Internet exchanges, SDN networks and data centers serving thousands of customers.

In just the last two years you have the arrival of both the MAREA and BRUSA subsea cables, along with the Facebook investment. These are transformative events that have opened the European, Latin and South American markets to the region via the lowest latency and highest capacity ever deployed between the continents.

Then when you consider the performance enabled by these subsea cables, it all becomes clear. MAREA and BRUSA are the highest capacity, lowest latency subsea cable systems ever built. MAREA is a Telxius joint project with Facebook and Microsoft. Innovations in optical transmission are enabling staggering increases in capacity. MAREA has reached 200 terabits per second (Tbps) of ultrahigh transmission capacity and is the highest capacity subsea cable system across the Atlantic connecting the US and Southern Europe.

BRUSA is a private cable built by Telxius and offers one of the lowest latency communication links between the U.S. and Brazil. Together, these cables provide state-of-the-art connectivity to enable the development of next generation cloud services and content distribution to and from Latin America and European markets.

To put this next-generation capacity and speed into perspective, 200 terabits per second is the equivalent of being able to download 12,000 HD movies per second, or every movie ever made in 42 seconds! This compares with cable systems developed as recently as 2013 that only delivered 9 Tbps.

Another major advancement is innovation in optical transmission that is enabling a new interconnection model where subsea cables can now terminate directly inside a multi-tenant data center rather than the traditional cable landing station (CLS) typically near a beach with limited interconnect options. Today’s data-intensive applications are driving demand for capacity and performance that is better served by terminating subsea cables directly in a connectivity-rich NAP as close as possible to the CLS.

Also in the works are numerous additional subsea cable terminations in the Richmond NAP that will connect the continents of Africa, the Middle East and Asia, as well as a second path to Europe.

Q. Why did Telxius choose Richmond and QTS for the cable terminations?

A. Because of its speed and proximity to the rest of the US, Richmond is the best access point into North America — more so than older cable landings in Florida, New York and New Jersey. QTS’ Richmond data center is one of the world’s largest and features in-building access to a wide array of on-net carriers including multiple fiber routes, third-party neutral Internet peering exchanges, and direct access to the world’s largest cloud platforms.

The Richmond NAP provides unmatched speed and savings for enterprises and hyperscalers that no longer must route their content through exchanges in Northern Virginia. Traffic can now be routed to major metropolitan areas like Philadelphia, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Charlotte, Cleveland and many more areas faster and cheaper than relying on Northern Virginia. Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Google have established, or are in the process of establishing, a presence in the region to take advantage of the new opportunity.

Q. How important are the cables to the global economy?

A. The Internet and its growth, such as the new QTS Richmond NAP, means every company is global and as such has access to new customers, technologies and even employees. Just a few years ago you rarely heard talk about subsea cables when you were talking about data center infrastructure. Today, virtually every data center is making interconnection with subsea cables a priority to support data-driven global business. And it’s reflected in the international capacity deployed by the big content, cloud and hyperscale companies increasing 14-fold between 2012 to 2016, according to TeleGeography. They recognize the need to be where the subsea cables terminate to get the direct, many-to-many global connectivity that enables them to provide their customers with private and proximate connections to the Internet ecosystems that grow around it.

Every global business is now required to collaborate with partners instantly, across oceans, and meet user expectations for high-performance connectivity anytime, anywhere. This is not possible with conventional IT architectures where data is transmitted via lower latency networks and across distant, centralized corporate data centers. Subsea cables are the only option for extending businesses globally.

The global economy is quickly taking shape and every business is considering new growth strategies. Those that eliminate geographic boundaries and allow for the elegant movement of data across new paths such as MAREA and BRUSA to access new markets will be successful. Those that do not will be left behind.

Download the Data Center flyer

Individuals of all walks of life are flocking to the region of Greater Richmond for its abundant opportunities. As more opportunities arise, so does the population, which has increased steadily from 2010 to 2018.

According to new data released by the United States Census Bureau, the Greater Richmond Region has grown 9 percent during the last eight years, adding approximately 85,000 net new residents to the area. On average since 2010, Greater Richmond gained 205 new residents every week.

The U.S. population is about 327 million with roughly 8.5 million residents in the state of Virginia. Now with 1.3 million people in the Richmond Metro Statistical Area, it is the nation’s 45th largest populated area.

Population growth in greater richmond virginia

Together, the City of Richmond and counties of Chesterfield, Hanover and Henrico make up the Richmond Region. While the City of Richmond is Virginia’s fourth-largest city, its population grew the most across the state with a 12 percent increase between 2010 and 2018. The counties of Chesterfield, Hanover and Henrico increased 9.9, 7.3 and 7.1 percent, respectively.

The steady population surge of these localities has been driven by an increased birth rate, as well as domestic and international migration. According to the Census Bureau, the Richmond Metropolitan Statistics Area (MSA) saw an increase of roughly 33,000 in domestic migration and 27,000 in international migration.

According to the American Community Survey 2012 – 2016, roughly 10,200 individuals moved from Washington, D.C., to Greater Richmond. More than 7,300 people moved from the Hampton Roads Region, 3,200 moved from New York and 1,800 moved from Charlottesville. The average age of in-migrating residents is 26 years old.

The population increase in Greater Richmond over the last eight years has contributed to the region’s civilian labor force of roughly 680,000 people.

View Richmond Region Labor Statistics

Virginia rises in 2019 ‘best states’ rankings

Do call it a comeback. After leading the nation as a top state for business for years, Virginia had slowly and silently fallen in several rankings for business. But after major changes within the state including a reorganization at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership led by president and CEO Stephen Moret, Virginia is now rising in several key measures for business.

The latest ranking from U.S. News Best States Rankings shows Virginia jumping from #20 to #7. The state’s fiscal stability was of particular note jumping from #14 to #8. This comes on the heels of Virginia jumping two spots to the #13 best state for business by Chief Executive. Virginia has also moved up in key business climate rankings from CNBC and Forbes.

In addition, earlier this month, Site Selection Magazine named Virginia Economic Development Partnership the “most competitive state-level economic development group” in the country, thanks in large part to winning Amazon HQ2 for the state which will also double the tech talent pipeline throughout the Commonwealth.

“With the full implementation of several recently funded initiatives, such as Virginia’s historic tech-talent investment program and a big investment in rural broadband, as well as new initiatives focused on marketing Virginia for business, preparing sites for development, and launching a world-class custom workforce solutions program, Virginia will be poised for additional improvements in our national rankings and more economic development wins,” said VEDP President and CEO Stephen Moret.

Virginia continues to offer one the best pro-business climates in the nation. In an effort to attract more businesses, Gov. Ralph Northam recently signed five bills that will continue to support economic development projects throughout Virginia.

This included House Bill 2003 – which extends the major business facility tax credit; House Bill 221 – reauthorizing the Virginia Investment Performance (VIP) Grant program and the Virginia Economic Development Inventive Grant (VEDIG) program; Senate Bill 1463 – allowing agencies to consider new telework jobs created when evaluating eligibility for a state grant; and House Bill 2182 and Senate Bill 1681 – providing that the state first notify the locality and the local economic development entity of surplus state property before it is offered for sale to the public.

Since January 2018, the Commonwealth has secured over $15 billion in capital investment and over 300 economic development projects. This has led to the creation of more than 48,000 jobs for the citizens of Virginia.

In addition to the new House Bills, Virginia and Greater Richmond have institutionalized many business incentives that benefit new and existing businesses, both in the short and long term. Incentives include financial assistance, infrastructure development grants, tax credits and exemptions, customized training and technical support programs. Recently, Chesterfield County announced an 86.6% tax rate reduction on data centers operating in the county and Henrico County approved exemptions on BPOL (Business, Professional and Occupational License) taxes up to $400,000.

These significant milestones signal a driving effort to make Virginia and the Richmond Region a competitive location for businesses looking to expand or relocate. Click here to learn more about Greater Richmond and how it can support your business.

Virginia to create new custom workforce program in 2019

With Virginia’s unemployment reaching record lows, the commonwealth seeks to invest in closing the skills gap. Over the last two years, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) and Virginia Community College System (VCCS) leaders have collaborated to craft a shared vision for a custom workforce recruitment and training incentive program in Virginia, building on proven models elsewhere in the Southern U.S.

This new initiative will mark a change to the often-used Virginia Jobs Investment Program (VJIP), which provides companies with more training choices after locating in the commonwealth. The current workforce program provides services and funding to companies creating new jobs or experiencing technological change to reduce the human resource development costs for new companies, expanding companies, and companies retraining their employees. Reimbursable funding for each net new full-time job created or full-time employee retrained is based on a customized budget determined by an assessment of the company’s recruiting and training activities.

Starting in Fall 2019, Virginia will sometimes offer the custom workforce incentive program in lieu of VJIP for prospects who voice a preference for a full-service option. For competitive projects, one of Virginia’s strategies to achieve this outcome is to offer the choice of:

  • A VJIP grant for those companies that want to execute their own workforce recruitment and training efforts, or
  • The new custom workforce recruitment and training incentive program

The customization, typically unavailable in competing states, will be just one of the distinctive features of Virginia’s approach. Bespoke employee recruitment, screening, training development, and training delivery services at no cost to the company will be offered in this new custom workforce incentive program, which is yet to be titled.

Recognizing that the most flexible workforce recruitment and training incentive programs typically serve as halo-like programs for their states, Virginia’s goal is to be ranked among the top 3-5 states in the country within three years – and No. 1 within five years.