Opinion

No quibbling: Virginia is great for business

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Print this page by Bernie Niemeier
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No quibbling is a stipulation often formally or informally attached to military cadet honor codes at schools such as the Virginia Military Institute. In addition to the proviso that a cadet shall “Neither lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate those who do,” no quibbling means that questions are to be answered directly and without the exclusion of facts that might artfully obfuscate the truth.  In ecclesiastical parlance, quibbling might well be deemed a “sin of omission.”

Suffice it to say that there has been some quibbling going on in Virginia lately. As unsavory as February’s revelations about decades-old racist behaviors by Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring were, they should perhaps come as no great surprise to anyone taking the long view of history.

It is not exactly breaking news that Virginia had a racist past.  Prior to emancipation, Virginia had more slaves than any other Southern state.  Richmond also was the capital of the Confederacy.  Even today, of nearly 1,500 Confederate memorials in the U.S., 242 are located in Virginia, more than any other state.  As recently as the 1950s Virginia’s politicians were architects of the Massive Resistance movement against school integration.

Thinking back to growing up in Virginia and my own education in Richmond’s public schools, I was taught that the Civil War was fought over states’ rights, not slavery.  Looking back today, I question if that is a correct view of history.  In any event, the fact that old yearbook photos have surfaced, unsavory by today’s standards, comes as no surprise. We all have had a lot to learn.

Changing the past is impossible. But in all fairness, similar history and problems exist elsewhere, and much has been learned.  Virginia’s new image as one of the most politically progressive states in the South is accurate.  But that doesn’t always keep the ghosts of the past from resurfacing.  There is still work to do.

One thing about which there should be no quibbling is Virginia’s business environment.  The commonwealth is a great place to locate or expand a business. 

The Amazon second headquarters  project is a prime example.  Unlike Queens in New York City, Virginia is delighted to have been awarded what was essentially the national grand prize for economic development in 2018.  Virginia’s politicians get it; 25,000 new high-paying jobs from Amazon will have a long-term positive impact on our economy.

Bipartisan cooperation involving legislators, the executive branch, institutions of higher education as well as local, regional and statewide economic development agencies is what made Virginia’s win in the competition for HQ2 possible.

When it comes to economic development, the commonwealth is known globally for an abundance of positive attributes.  Virginia has a business-friendly tax and legal environment.  It is a right-to-work state. 

Northern Virginia is a well-established hotbed for high-tech.  The Port of Virginia is a leader in import/export logistics.  Virginia’s higher-education system uses its decentralized structure to create competitive advantages but also shows great cooperation on workforce development.  There is a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem.  Greenfield industrial expansion opportunities exist across the entire state.

If you are looking for more on why Virginia is great for business, look no further.  This month’s issue of Virginia Business is our seventh-annual Big Book, a compendium of economic development data and business opportunities in every region of the state.  This issue also features our 2019 list of the 50 Most Influential Virginians, as well as nearly 50 other lists of major statewide players, companies and corporations in a variety of industries.

Virginia Business always strives to be your source for business intelligence.  While history is rarely unblemished, one thing that there can be no quibbling about is that the business climate in Virginia is one of the most attractive in the world.  Our future remains bright.  Enjoy!




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