To remain competitive in business, Virginia needs an overhaul

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While Virginia ranks nationally as one of the best states to do business, there’s plenty of room for improvement if the state wants to remain competitive in an evolving economy.

That was the bottom line among a slew of recommendations Thursday from several subgroups of the Governor’s Economic Development and Job Creation Commission. The groups’ concerns focus largely on the state’s economic development programs and infrastructure, which they said are insufficient to meet current and future needs of business. 

Some of the concerns: 
• That Virginia’s economy lacks appropriate coordination with higher education institutions to capitalize and commercialize on future emerging technologies and industries. To help transform academic institutions into economic engines, the subgroups would like to see more research-based collaborations, an emerging technology fund and an R&D refundable tax credit for qualified advanced technology startups and early-stage firms created by a Virginia university.

• The state’s workforce development system lacks coordination and leadership. There needs to be a better alignment between job demand and workforce development efforts.

• Small businesses and entrepreneurs face permitting, resource and capital challenges in starting, running and expanding a business in Virginia. Recommended changes include fully funded enterprise zones, fast-track permitting for projects that would create new jobs and a small business investment tax credit, particularly for targeted industries such as biotechnology and life sciences.

• The commonwealth needs to create a Port of Virginia tax credit to encourage companies to use the state’s port for export and import of materials and goods coming from Virginia-based manufacturing operations. 

Commission Co-Chairs, Lieutenant Gov. Bill Bulling and Senior Economic Advisor Bob Sledd, will review and prioritize the recommendations prior to the submission of a final report to the governor on Oct. 15. To see a full list of proposals, go to

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