2018 Marks Banner Year for NV Chamber Partnership
Economic development, workforce, and transportation top list of session successes
The Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership – our region’s largest and most respected Chamber-led business advocacy partnership – is proud to announce its successes for the 2018 legislative session. Our priorities will be represented when the Commonwealth’s new laws and budget take effect on July 1.
The Partnership focused its efforts in the 2018 General Assembly session on promoting initiatives that led to significant gains in the areas of economic development, workforce and transportation infrastructure.
This year also marked the Partnership’s own expansion, with the Tysons Regional and Greater McLean chambers joining the Dulles Regional, Greater Reston, Loudoun County and Mount Vernon Lee chambers. The Partnership now represents more than 3,500 businesses and 120,000 jobs. The following are among the Partnership’s most notable successes on behalf of the northern Virginia business community in 2018:
Increased investment in GO Virginia. Among the Partnership’s top priorities for the 2018 session was increased investment in the business-led GO Virginia economic development initiative. With Partnership support, this initiative received $15 million in additional funding over the next two years, taking the total funding to $64 million. This additional funding will enable the business community, local governments and other economic development stakeholders to continue to work together to create more, higher paying jobs that will fuel economic growth in the Commonwealth.
Investment in marketing Virginia for business and preparation of business-ready sites. The Partnership also worked hard to secure funding to better market Virginia to businesses considering where to grow and locate their businesses. The Partnership also worked to secure funding to improve Virginia’s business-ready sites program. According to VEDP, the lack of development-ready sites and buildings cost Virginia at least 47 projects and $6.5 billion in investment over the past five years. The final budget included $5.5 million for these programs.
Funding to launch a northern Virginia-based, world-class cyber initiative. The Partnership expressed strong support for development of a world-class cybersecurity initiative intended to be an engine for research, innovation and commercialization of cybersecurity technologies and to help address the Commonwealth’s need for more advanced and professional degrees within the cyber workforce. The final budget included $20 million to lay the groundwork for this initiative, including development of a plan to ensure this new program can truly enable Virginia to be an internationally recognized leader in the cybersecurity space.
Addition of workforce development/talent initiative to Virginia’s economic development portfolio. The Partnership was among the most vocal early supporters of a new initiative proposed by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) to develop a world-class, turn-key customized training and recruitment program. With workforce among the top factors that influence business location and expansion decisions, this program, which will receive $7.5 million over the next two years, has the potential to be a game-changing tool for use with businesses considering Virginia.
Expanded support for alignment of credentials with workforce needs. Expansion of the Virginia Community College System’s successful New Economy Workforce Credential Grant Program also received strong support among policymakers and business leaders in 2018. The Partnership was among the early supporters of this pay-for-performance program that targets resources toward workforce needs in high-demand fields. Since being launched in 2016, more than 4,500 credentials have been earned and typically qualify Virginians for careers with starting wages that increase their take-home pay by 50% or more. The final budget included an additional $4 million for this valuable program, taking the total investment to $9.5 million per year through FY20. The Partnership looks forward to seeing this program continue to grow and deliver credentialed workers to the industries that need them most.
Enactment of policy to better prepare kids for the workforce and help to combat Virginia’s critical teacher shortage. The Partnership was also pleased to support legislation that will increase awareness of work-based learning opportunities for students and parents, expand performance-based testing at the K-12 level that assesses content knowledge as well as a student’s ability to apply and interpret that knowledge, streamline the teacher licensing process, and ensure quality, consistency and equity in dual enrollment courses across the state. Coupled with increased K-12 in the budget, these policy improvements will help strengthen Virginia’s education system and workforce.
Solidified Virginia focus on improvements to the American Legion Bridge. The Partnership was pleased to be a leading supporter of legislation that will ensure Virginia remains focused on remediation of the American Legion Bridge, inarguably, the region’s greatest chokepoint. Inaction on this priority is making employment centers in Maryland and Virginia inaccessible for thousands of workers on a daily basis. While action by Maryland is necessary for true improvements to proceed, this legislation ensures that this critical infrastructure priority remains a focus in Virginia.
Reform and identification of funding for Metro. The Partnership believes that a well-maintained, safe, reliable and fiscally sustainable Metro system is essential to northern Virginia’s and the Commonwealth’s economic competitiveness. For that reason, support for new, sustainable Metro funding, tied to implementation of appropriate operational and funding and governance reforms, was a central priority for the Partnership this session. As the legislature completed its work, the final package that passed provided Virginia share of funding for Metro, $154 million/year. Unfortunately, more than $100 million of the funding mix will come at the expense of other longstanding northern Virginia transportation needs. This is a significant concern thatthe Partnership will address. Looking toward the 2019 session, the Partnership will aggressively work with policymakers to identify alternative revenue sources so that funding can be restored to other long neglected transportation needs in our region, while maintaining adequate support for Metro.
The Partnership appreciates the strong leadership of many in the legislature and Governor’s Administration to advance these and other important priorities and looks forward to continued work to support a pro-business climate in Virginia.