U.S. Chamber study ranks Virginia among nation’s leading tech states
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Tuesday named the states best positioned to thrive in a rapidly evolving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-focused economy, and Virginia made the list.
The foundation’s sixth annual Enterprising States: States Innovate study ranks the top 10 states in the categories of economic performance, transportation and trade, innovation and entrepreneurship, business climate, talent pipeline and high-tech performance.
Virginia ranked No. 7 in the nation for both high-tech performance and talent pipeline.
“Strategic public-private research investments fuel Virginia’s impressive innovation driven economy,” Carolyn Cawley, managing director, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, said in a statement. “Now a national leader in the development of driverless cars, solar energy efficiencies, cybersecurity and bioscience, the commonwealth is well poised to continue to draw some of the best and brightest STEM workers provided it remains steadfast in its technological focus.”
While Silicon Valley continues to be the epicenter of U.S. high-tech activity, the chamber study said high housing costs are driving the migration of skilled tech talent to more affordable, family-friendly locations.
Virginia remains an attractive option for technology innovators, the report added, because it awards grants to startups through its Center for Innovative Technology. The state’s $4.2 million investment in this program has generated $7.4 million in matching funds and helped 52 startups take root in 2014 alone.
The study also cited the Virginia Bioscience Initiative as another hallmark of the state’s determination to lead in the resourceful application of high-tech solutions. By easing the commercialization of translational research from public universities, the multiyear effort aims to increase the speed at which innovation improves peoples’ lives.
For Virginia to continue to its progress, the report recommends a combination of policies and actions to continue to spark growth across a large spectrum of industries not necessarily associated with the mainstay tech economy.
“While Virginia has faced economic headwinds from sequestration, our high marks in high-tech business and the talent pipeline give us a foundation for future growth,” said Barry DuVal, president and CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. “We will continue to work with lawmakers in Richmond to build on these competitive advantages.”