RD534 - 2017 GO Virginia Annual Report

Executive Summary:

Chapters 778 and 779 of the 2016 Virginia Acts of Assembly amended Title 2.2 of the Code of Virginia by adding Chapter 24 to create the Virginia Growth and Opportunity Board and the Virginia Growth and Opportunity Fund (VGOF) within the Virginia Growth and Opportunity Act. Subsection 11 of § 2.2-2486 of the Code requires the Board to submit an annual Executive Summary of the interim activity of the Board by December 1 of each year. The information provided here summarizes the activities of the Board from December 1, 2016 – November 30, 2017.

During its second year, and in anticipation of making grant awards during the next annual reporting period, the Virginia Growth and Opportunity Board spent considerable time creating and adopting guidelines for implementation of the Act and assisting regions in building their capacity to carry out regional activities. The second half of the reporting period included significant progress in developing Growth and Diversification plans in each region that were adopted by the Regional Councils and the Board and position GO Virginia to begin making the strategic investments envisioned in the statute.

The Virginia Growth and Opportunity Act, also known as GO Virginia, created a twenty-four-member policy board composed of gubernatorial appointees, legislative appointees, legislators, and three ex-officio members from different Executive Branch secretariats (Appendix A provides a list of members). Upon creation, the GO Virginia State Board adopted a purpose statement – “create more higher paying jobs through incentivized collaboration, primarily through out-of-state revenue, which diversifies and strengthens the economy in every region" – which drives the work of the Board and the regional councils. GO Virginia is unique because the program offers state-incentives for regional collaboration to address their specific economic challenges. The goals of these efforts is to stimulate the economy through the creation of higher paying jobs supported by out of state revenue and by getting each region to grow and diversify its economy based on prioritized, sustainable industry strengths and opportunities.

The Virginia Growth and Opportunity Fund, as created in § 2.2-2487, has three grant categories; (1) funding for planning grants to assist regions in conducting a skills gap analysis and developing an Economic Growth and Diversification plan; (2) project grants allocated to each region on a per capita basis, and (3) competitive grants awarded to projects with the greatest expected economic impact for a region. The biennium budget allocated $28.05 million for the Fund with $3.6 million allocated to capacity building activities in the first year, and $2.25 million allocated to capacity building activities in the second year. The remaining amounts were $10.9 million and $11.3 million in the second year to the per capita and competitive grants, respectively.

Complementing the Virginia Growth and Opportunity Act are the Collaborative Economic Development Act (CEDA) and the Virginia Research Investment Committee (VRIC). As enacted per § 2.2-5105 of the Code, the Collaborative Economic Development Act, administered by the GO Virginia Board, provides the opportunity for localities to pursue sharing of state income tax revenues resulting from participating in collaborative economic development projects which meet certain job creation and capital investment benchmarks. Guidelines for this program were approved by the Board in October. VRIC’s complimentary fund, the Virginia Research Investment Fund (VRIF), is designed to leverage state resources to encourage collaboration in research that can be commercialized and used as a driver for economic development. VRIC is closely tied to the GO Virginia Board, as four non-legislative citizen members of the GO Virginia Board also sit on the nine member VRIC Board. All of these programs aim to foster collaboration and innovation in Virginia’s regions.