Opinion

A different type of succession planning

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Robert Powell III


Most businesspeople understand the wisdom of succession planning. You need someone waiting in the wings to take over the reins of the business so that there is no break in continuity. But a different type of succession planning is taking shape in the Old Dominion. It involves not the replacement of executives but of rank-and-file employees.

Virginia has enjoyed a deserved reputation as a prosperous state with a low unemployment rate. But the jobless statistics have masked the problems that many companies face in recruiting highly skilled employees. In our cover story, Richmond writer Garry Kranz takes a close look at the causes of a feared skilled labor shortage and the steps that businesses and government agencies are taking to beef up Virginia’s work-force development programs.

In a related story, Kranz also examines the top corporate expansions in Virginia in 2007. He finds that last year’s big deals created fewer jobs than in recent years. 

While discussing business issues at the state level, we also look at the commonwealth’s efforts to provide international trade opportunities. Managing Editor Paula C. Squires interviews Paul H. Grossman Jr., director of international trade and investment for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership. He says that the declining value of the dollar is boosting exports for many companies.

Competition for new businesses and jobs, of course, takes place at the regional level as well as the state level. Fredericksburg writer Robert Burke looks at the prospects for garnering more high-paying jobs in his region so that residents don’t have to commute to Washington and its close-in suburbs.

As localities around the state work on economic development projects, a growing number are turning to community development authority bonds for help with financing. Richmond writer Rob Walker examines the rationale behind CDAs in our Commercial Real Estate Quarterly Report. The real estate section also looks at the evolution of Charlottesville’s downtown mall, which began more than 30 years ago.

Finally, we have another story in this issue that returns to the issue of succession planning. The state’s golf industry is courting baby boomers with the hope that, in retirement, they will spend more time on the course than their elders. Unlike the debate about work-force development, though, the concern on the golf course isn’t so much about skill as people putting in their time.


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