Industries Economic Development

Higher education institutions to collaborate with economic development arm

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The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) has enlisted the help of Virginia’s public institutions of higher education in marketing the commonwealth to business prospects.

The memorandum with the state’s 16 public universities and colleges, 23 community colleges and the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) intends to reach out to companies that will create jobs and invest capital in the state.

It’s part of a larger initiative by VEDP to collaborate with organizations in the state on a unified Virginia message in the marketplace. The initiative also is designed to result in a higher number of corporate contacts and project leads as well increased opportunities for Virginia’s colleges and universities to work with companies.

VEDP officials described the basic message as an acronym: “BEST.”

The letters stand for: Business-friendly values, Education, Stable business environment and transportation access to markets through facilities such as Washington Dulles International Airport and the Port of Virginia.

Leonard Sledge, economic development director for the College of William & Mary and chairman of University-Based Economic Development group, said the agreement signed Monday is the first of its kind in the country.

One of the first steps in implementing the agreement, Sledge said, will involve colleges and universities informing VEDP of the resources and assets they have that can be used to promote economic development.

University and college officials also are being encouraged to promote Virginia at educational conferences and other meetings in the U.S. and around the world.

Specific initiatives include: 
• Outreach to businesses and other audiences promoting core strengths, assets, and expertise of Virginia and its public institutions of higher education;
•   Identification and support of shared legislative priorities;
•   Regular meetings among partners to align strategies and goals and;
•   Annual summary of results.

“There is a pressing and profound need to build the next generation of economic development on the foundation of Virginia’s stellar public institutions of higher education,“ Martin Briley, VEDP president and CEO, said in statement.  The agreement “provides a meaningful blueprint to more fully leverage higher education as a differentiator in our economic development outreach marketing, and it reinforces the message to our corporate partners that our public colleges and universities are dedicated to leveraging research and workforces assets to benefit the business community and grow, retain, and recruit corporate investment and jobs in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

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