At its 8th annual Virginia Economic Summit on December 1, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce released an update of its 2013 Blueprint Virginia plan. The update, Blueprint Virginia 2025, was developed over the last year with more than 6,000 responses to an electronic survey and numerous regional briefings. The plan makes targeted recommendations in the areas of Workforce and Education, Business Climate, Transportation, Healthcare, Energy, Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship, Manufacturing, Environment, and Military and Veteran Affairs.
Some of the more than 240 recommendations will be of interest to VACo members, and include the following:
- Expand public-private partnerships and mixed delivery of the Virginia Preschool Initiative;
- Build significant and meaningful partnerships between the business community, K-12 schools, and higher education to support the implementation of Virginia’s high school redesign efforts (profile of a high school graduate, new high school graduation requirements, and opportunities for students to participate in work-based learning experiences);
- Support alternative and innovative models of education delivery with an appropriate incentive model and resources to help localities use them, including permitting the state to authorize charter schools, enhancing the use of virtual schools, and exploring other options for school choice;
- Support updating the Local Composite Index formula and provide the appropriate funding needed;
- Support replacement funding for the Capital Project Revenue bonds set to expire in Fiscal Year 2019 that support Virginia’s transit, rail, and freight programs;
- Evaluate and implement recommendations to improve the governance and operational challenges at Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to include identifying a long-term dedicated funding source for this critical economic development asset;
- Encourage collaboration on the development of innovative proposals, including funding models, to address issues such as access to behavioral health services and substance use disorder treatments (e.g. opioids);
- Support the expansion of telehealth services and other evolving technology to improve access and control costs;
- Increase financial support for public-private partnerships with existing internet service providers to facilitate broadband deployment in unserved areas;
- Support a more uniform and streamlined process for the approval of small and traditional cell facilities that can support 5G and small cell networks;
- Work with the governor and General Assembly on a comprehensive review of Virginia’s tax system, including identifying targeted tax changes for Virginia’s manufacturers; and
- Promote continued investment in water quality infrastructure projects in regional and locally owned wastewater treatment facilities.
These recommendations will serve as a guide to the Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s legislative agenda and annual Legislative Report Card.
VACo Contact: Joe Lerch, AICP