Stephen Moret, the new director of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) has been on the job long enough to tour the state, meet business leaders and regional economic development officials, and summarize impressions of his first 100 days. In a letter he broadcast widely through the economic development community, he articulated five aspirational goals and enumerated eleven projects he hopes to see accomplished by the end of 2017.
The five broad goals include:
- Position Virginia to achieve an employment growth rate among the top three Southern states (and top five in the United States). This will require creating 20,000 jobs per year over and above existing forecasts.
- Ensure that every region of Virginia participates in that growth. Over the past five years, nearly half of Virginia’s counties and cities have lost population. “While we can’t ensure that every county will grow, we can ensure that every region will grow.”
- Restore Virginia’s standing to the top rankings (average in the top three) of the best states for business.
- Re-establish VEDP as “America’s premier state economic development organization.” Other states have stepped up their game. “We are going to clearly describe where we are behind and articulate what it will take to get back on top.”
- Emphasize the “P” in VEDP — develop strong relations with local and regional economic developers, the Port of Virginia, GO Virginia, the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, railroads, utilities, and the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.
This year, Moret said he will focus upon implementing Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) recommendations for the administrative reform of VEDP as well as the following:
- Develop a target-industry economic development strategy and action plan for the state and each of its regions.
- Create a marketing/branding, site-consultant cultivation, and lead-generation program, and introduce a legislative proposal to fund it.
- Launch a “world-class, turnkey, customized workforce recruitment and training program modeled after such programs in Georgia and Louisiana.”
- Launch a targeted business retention and expansion program.
- Develop a comprehensive strategy to position rural Virginia for growth.
“I’ve been amazed by the physical beauty of Virginia; the incredible human capital, higher education, infrastructure, and geographic assets here; the high-quality companies making world-class products and/or delivering world-class services; and the professionalism and passion of Virginia economic development practitioners,” wrote Moret, who ran Louisiana’s economic development program before moving to Virginia. “Based on what I’ve seen so far at VEDP and across the Commonwealth, I’m even more enthusiastic about the opportunities facing us than I was when my appointment was first announced.”
Bacon’s bottom line: Stephen Moret is bringing new energy and a fresh eye to an economic development apparatus that grew complacent from previous successes. As VEDP chief, however, his job is bringing outside capital investment and jobs to Virginia, which is only one leg of a diversified economic development strategy. Most jobs will be created by existing Virginia businesses and new start-up businesses, which are outside of Moret’s portfolio. But I think Virginians can feel reassured that the corporate-recruitment function is in good hands.There are currently no comments highlighted.