Governor announces legislative agenda for economic development

December 31, 2014

Governor Terry McAuliffe released his New Virginia Economic Strategic Plan and several related legislative proposals on December 5. The plan focuses on five areas: infrastructure, high-growth industries, business climate, innovation and entrepreneurs and workforce development.

VACo members and staff participated in the regional roundtables that Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones conducted to assist in developing the plan. The plan includes a focus on broadband expansion efforts and workforce development, which are both 2015 VACo legislative priorities.

The broadband component of the plan includes numerous proposals to expand financing and better utilize state owned assets to expand and improve broadband connectivity. The plan says that the state will maximize its resources to help localities develop strategic plans to acquire broadband service. Expanding wireless hot spots for residents at schools and libraries is also suggested as one local policy tool. The governor’s budget proposes adding $500,000 in FY 2016 for Broadband planning grants to localities.

The workforce development plan focuses on increasing competitiveness through credentialing programs that meet business and industry needs. The proposal also recommends a better focus on incentivizing the public and private sector at the local level to work regionally. VACo supports increasing state incentives for credentialing that meets employer needs and state efforts that assist voluntary regional collaboration on workforce development.

Below is a summary of the specific legislative proposals the governor announced he will pursue:

  • Increase accountability and transparency for taxpayer dollars spent on workforce development
  • Promote more public-private partnerships in order to foster greater innovation in workforce training
  • Streamline Virginia’s workforce development system and better align it with the needs of our employers on a regional basis
  • Increase investments in Virginia’s workforce development system in the Governor’s budget proposal
  • Invest in the Governor’s Opportunity Fund to keep Virginia competitive with other states
  • Create an Energy Diversity Plan and establish the Virginia Solar Energy Development Authority to further diversify our energy mix
  • Offer new energy economic development incentives to attract and retain businesses
  • Reform the Tobacco Commission to maximize return on investment on Commission investments and create a long-term sustainable funding model
  • Extend tax credits for green jobs and also tax exemptions for capital gains by technology start-ups set to expire in 2015
  • Promote a Virginia Tourism Growth Incentive Fund to assist in tourism development projects

The Governor and General Assembly are also likely to work together to implement some of the recommendations of the JLARC Study on workforce development released in early December (see pull out box with JLARC recommendations). VACo will work with the Administration and the General Assembly to advance VACo’s workforce development and broadband agenda in the upcoming session.

VACo Contact: Erik Johnston

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