GO Virginia is working to regain Virginia’s position of economic leadership by growing and diversifying the state’s economy. Our focus is the creation of state financial incentives, technical support, and other assistance that will encourage collaboration on private-sector growth and job creation by business, education, and government in each region. Three main points guide the coalition’s work:
1. Virginia urgently needs strong private-sector growth.
For the first time in a half-century, Virginia is trailing the Nation in economic recovery and job creation. Steep cutbacks in defense and other federal programs have exposed our over-dependence on public-sector and government-contractor jobs. Further, over the past three years, Virginia has experienced net out migration of our talent pool who are moving to other states where job opportunities are better. For current and future generations to enjoy the kind of opportunity we have experienced, Virginia urgently needs strong private-sector growth and a more diversified economy.
2. Growth in Virginia’s diverse regions requires collaboration.
Virginia does not have a single economy; our state’s economy is the aggregate of our regions. Businesses typically provide jobs to qualified workers from throughout a region, serve customers across the region, use regional suppliers and vendors, and rely on regional transportation networks and other infrastructure. Because Virginia is a large and diverse state, the opportunities for private-sector growth vary significantly from one part of our state to another, requiring collaborative innovation among employers, entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, educators, governments, and other leaders in each region. Too often this cooperation has been lacking, causing Virginia to lag behind other states.
3. State government must
be a catalyst and partner.
While the innovation to spur private-sector growth must come from within each region, the Commonwealth has a vital role to play. State government aids business growth by keeping taxes and regulatory burdens low, supporting education and training, and addressing critical infrastructure needs, among other functions. But the State can and must do more to encourage strategic, job-focused collaboration in each region. Significant state funds currently flow to localities, schools, and higher education institutions; the Commonwealth should use these and other resources to promote joint efforts on economic and workforce development and to encourage collaboration that can improve performance and reduce costs. The State must be a reliable partner in these regional efforts, and state-funded initiatives should result in greater economic output and job creation in each region rather than reallocating market share or picking winners and losers.
In 2016, leaders in business and state government came together to create the GO Virginia legislative package. Now, the GO Virginia initiative is being implemented through legislation (HB834 / SB449) and through the budget.
GO Virginia has identified five ways that state-funded incentives can have a significant positive impact on private-sector growth:
Innovation. The State can promote innovation and growth in each region through start-up grant support for projects that promise substantial economic impact, leverage significant local, private, and other investment, and reflect regional cooperation on industry sector growth, alignment of education and training programs with employer demand, entrepreneurship, and other private sector-focused growth strategies.
Investment. The State can encourage cooperation rather than competition among localities in the recruitment of new business investment and jobs to each region by returning a portion of the state tax revenues generated by projects to regions where localities share economic development-related costs and revenues.
Improvement. The State can provide financial incentives for efficiency-enhancing and cost-saving collaboration between and among local governments, school divisions, and higher education institutions, thereby improving performance, reducing pressures to increase the size and cost of government, and freeing up tax dollars for opportunity-focused initiatives in education, job training, and economic development.
Invention. The State can encourage inventions and discoveries that lead to commercially viable products and services by providing matching-fund support for labs, equipment, and other research-related needs, thereby leveraging private and other R&D investments and generating economic benefits for the region.
Infrastructure. The State can invest in capital projects of regional or broader significance that will produce strong returns in private-sector growth, diversification, and job creation through improved education and job-skills training, research, business site development, communications, and other vital infrastructure.
GO Virginia supports a voluntary, incentive-based approach as the best way to encourage regional cooperation on private-sector growth. To fund state incentives, the coalition favors use of growth revenues, re-purposed dollars, and efficiency savings. State funding should also leverage private, local, and other investment. GO Virginia does not create any new taxes, mandates, layers of government, or changes in local authority. Our focus is creating more opportunity for Virginians through private-sector growth in each region.