RD575 - A Comprehensive Economic Development Policy for the Commonwealth – December 7, 2018

Executive Summary:

Virginia started as a business venture and has been known as a top place to do business since the founding of this country. Although the Commonwealth is perhaps best known for its important role in American history, Virginia’s economic contributions are equally impressive. Virginia has been a global trade hub since colonial times and, today, is a world leader in 21st-century industries like life sciences, data centers, cybersecurity, and unmanned systems. Through it all, Virginia’s success has been due to its remarkable assets, especially its people.

Despite a history of success, Virginia faces both challenges and opportunities. The Commonwealth’s economy has experienced dramatic swings, due in large part to significant dependence on federal spending and competition in the global marketplace. And while Virginia, as a whole, has experienced economic growth, not all of its regions have shared in this growth. Indeed, many regions have lost jobs in recent years. These trends threaten to continue without a bold vision to make Virginia’s economy one of the best of the nation.

This economic development policy contains that vision. Its ultimate goal is to ensure that every region, every community, and every household can participate and share in the fruits of the Commonwealth's economic progress. It presents a strategic path toward that goal, focusing on four key areas:

Maximize the Commonwealth's human, natural, and man-made assets: Invest in the education and skills of our people; unlock the potential of our natural assets in a sustainable way; and upgrade our physical and virtual infrastructure to ensure that Virginia remains an international leader in connecting goods and people

Maintain and enhance our leading business climate: Enable growth within existing industries and businesses; attract high-growth, high-impact industries and firms to the Commonwealth; and incubate the industries and firms of tomorrow

Support every Virginian in the pursuit of a productive, quality life: Facilitate access to economic opportunity and, when needed, provide a helping hand and safety net as we create a more resilient workforce and stronger, more connected communities

Maximize the benefits of taxpayer dollars: Run a smart, efficient, and responsive government By executing this economic development strategy in partnership with state, regional, and local leaders, Virginia will achieve shared prosperity. This path will not be easy. Fortunately, Virginia has a wealth of economic development assets, has a strategy to maximize the value inherent in these assets, and—most importantly—can draw on its spirit of teamwork, grit, and ingenuity to improve the life of every Virginian.

This document is organized as follows: First, it outlines the mandate and process to develop the economic development policy for Governor Northam's administration. Second, it reviews the current state of Virginia's economy, its assets, and some of the challenges constraining Virginia's economic potential. Next, it highlights the strategic priorities that will drive growth and prosperity in every corner of the Commonwealth. Last, the document concludes with a call for Virginians to work together to ensure that every region, community, and household has the opportunity to work hard, provide for their families, and share in the fruits of our labor.