GO Virginia Initiatives Broadly Supported by Virginia House of Delegates
RICHMOND – Legislation proposed by GO Virginia (www.govirginia.org) passed the Virginia House of Delegates today with large bipartisan majorities. More than 90 delegates in the 100-member chamber voted to approve House Bills 834 and 846, marking a major step toward General Assembly approval of GO Virginia’s plan to create a new framework for strengthening the economy in each region of Virginia through enhanced collaboration by business, education, and local government encouraged and incentivized by the Commonwealth.
GO Virginia’s proposals also advanced to the floor of the Virginia Senate today. The Senate Finance Committee unanimously reported the Senate versions of the legislation, Senate Bills 449 and 459.
“We appreciate the broad, bipartisan endorsement of GO Virginia’s legislative agenda, evident today in the strong affirmative vote in the House of Delegates and the unanimous committee action in the Senate,” said John O. “Dubby” Wynne, chairman of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation and retired president and chief executive officer of Landmark Communications. “Members of the General Assembly understand that Virginia is a diverse state and each region is different, so a once-size-fits-all approach won’t work. GO Virginia is a bottom-up, collaborative approach that will enable each region to develop practical, transformational projects that will help the private sector, including both small and large businesses, grow.
House Bill 834 and Senate Bill 449 authorize regional growth and opportunity grants (GO! Grants) that would provide start-up funding, to be matched by local and private resources, for significant projects that boost private-sector growth and reflect collaboration among business, education, and at least two local governments. House Bill 846 and Senate Bill 459, known as the “Virginia Collaborative Economic Development Act,” would encourage collaboration among localities on economic development rather than self-defeating competition that often wastes tax dollars. More information on the proposed legislation and the GO Virginia initiative can be found at www.govirginia.org.
Speaking during House of Delegates consideration of the GO! Grants legislation, Delegate M. Kirkland “Kirk” Cox (R-Colonial Heights), a chief patron of House Bill 834, stressed the value of business involvement in regional initiatives to promote private-sector growth. “This program brings business expertise and know-how to bear on how we spend tax dollars on economic and workforce development,” said Cox. “It is a market-based, private-sector growth plan.”
During Senate Finance Committee deliberations, Senators Thomas K. Norment, Jr. (R-James City), Janet D. Howell (D-Fairfax), and Frank M. Ruff, Jr. (R-Mecklenburg), chief patrons of the GO Virginia bills in the Senate, applauded the extensive work of business and higher education leaders on the initiative. Norment noted that more than 80 business and community organizations have endorsed the GO Virginia legislation and more than 8,000 individual Virginians have signed on via the coalition’s website.
Business and higher education leaders, led by Wynne, testified in support of the legislation during the Senate Finance Committee meeting. Addressing the Committee were Ben J. Davenport Jr., Chairman of First Piedmont Corporation; Todd A. Stottlemyer, CEO of Inova Center for Personalized Health; and Dr. Michael Rao, President of Virginia Commonwealth University and the VCU Health System.
About the GO Virginia legislation: The Virginia Growth and Opportunity Act, authorizing the award of regional GO! Grants, is contained in House Bill 834 and Senate Bill 449. Chief patrons are: Delegates M. Kirkland “Kirk” Cox (R-Colonial Heights) and Luke Torian (D-Prince William); Senators Thomas K. Norment, Jr. (R-James City) and Janet D. Howell (D-Fairfax). The Virginia Collaborative Economic Development Act, providing incentives for localities to engage in joint economic development initiatives, is contained in House Bill 846 and Senate Bill 459. Chief patrons are: Delegates Timothy D. Hugo (R-Fairfax), Matthew James (D-Portsmouth), and J. Randall Minchew (R-Loudoun); Senators Frank M. Ruff, Jr. (R-Mecklenburg) and Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax).
About the GO Virginia coalition: The coalition is comprised of business and community leaders, partners in education and government, and interested Virginians from across the Commonwealth who support regional cooperation on private-sector growth, job creation, and career readiness. Bipartisan and business-led, the coalition favors state incentives to encourage collaboration among business, education, and government in each region, providing a framework for implementation of the private sector-focused strategies of leading business organizations and political leaders in both parties. Learn more and join the coalition at www.govirginia.org.