The Virginia Initiative for Growth and Opportunity (“GO Virginia”) is a business-led effort to create more higher-paying jobs in Virginia through incentivized regional collaboration. In recent months, the 24-member GO Virginia State Board has awarded over $5 million in grants for 18 innovative projects across the state that will enhance the Commonwealth’s workforce training capabilities and provide high-wage job opportunities in each region.

Although the GO Virginia program was launched less than two years ago, numerous Virginia higher education institutions already are participating prominently in grant-funded projects. In addition, college presidents and other top campus officials are serving on GO Virginia regional councils and playing related leadership roles.

Much can be accomplished when our colleges, universities, and community colleges partner with local governments and businesses to address regional workforce needs and drive economic growth.  Some examples:

  • VCU Pharmaceutical Accelerator
    Virginia Commonwealth University is a key partner in this project that was developed to create a large-scale, sustainable pharmaceutical manufacturing cluster in central Virginia. Building on the recently created Medicines for All Institute (M4ALL) at VCU’s School of Engineering and a series of significant grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this project has the potential to lower the cost of developing pharmaceuticals needed to prevent diseases around the world. Through this innovative collaboration between VCU and several private-sector partners, the project will generate significant research activity in Richmond and pharmaceutical manufacturing in Petersburg.
  • Hampton Roads Cyber Collaboration Laboratory
    The HRCyber Co-Lab will serve as an anchor for innovation in the cybersecurity, data analytics, autonomous vehicles, and virtual technologies markets in Hampton Roads. This collaboration hub will be located at Old Dominion University’s Tri-Cities campus. There are four major components to this project:

    • Virginia Cyber Trail – an outreach and collaboration effort across multiple GO Virginia regions to link educators, practitioners, researchers, and investors in a pathway for innovation
    • Industry Collaboratives – connects industry to academic and federal laboratories to accelerate innovation and technology transfer
    • Cyber Arena – a virtual environment to innovate, test, and transition new technologies into the collaborative network
    • Digital Entrant Programs – will create digital jobs through internships at industry partners and will incentivize startups and companies in technology markets
  • Virginia’s Digital Shipbuilding Workforce Program
    This program, to be developed and delivered at the Virginia Modeling, Analysis & Simulation Center at Old Dominion University, will create a regional program to train approximately 8,500 future workers—skilled craftsmen, engineers, designers, and IT professionals—to work in the new digital manufacturing environment and will support Hampton Roads’ existing advanced manufacturing and shipbuilding clusters.
  • NOVA Tech Talent Pipeline
    This project will build upon Northern Virginia’s existing computer services and cybersecurity clusters to create a workforce system that effectively attracts, prepares, and retains qualified candidates to fill high-demand technology jobs in several targeted, high-paying occupational areas: programming and software development; data and data warehousing; and networking and cybersecurity. Project partners include George Mason University, the Fairfax County Public Schools, the Alexandria-Arlington Workforce Investment Board, and several local governments.
  • NOVA Fab-Lab
    Northern Virginia Community College, working in collaboration with Micron Technology, Inc., the U.S. Army’s Night Vision and Sensors Directorate, and BAE Systems, developed this project to create a state-of-the-art engineering technology “Fabrication Laboratory” in Northern Virginia. This project will help create high-paying engineering jobs by leveraging established internship programs at Micron Technology and BAE Systems as well as the existing SySTEMic curriculum at Northern Virginia Community College.
  • CCAM Apprentice Academy Pilot
    The Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM) will bolster Virginia’s advanced manufacturing workforce development system through the new Apprenticeship Academy Pilot and the new Transitioning Military Program.  The project’s programs and workforce training operations will be based at the CCAM facility and at John Tyler Community College.
  • GO-TEC
    The Great Opportunities in Technology and Engineering Careers (“GO-TEC”) project in Southside Virginia is focused on building a robust pipeline of skilled technicians for strategically targeted areas of industrial growth. The workforce programs associated with this project will marketed and operated through GO-TEC Centers, which will be found at several of Southside Virginia’s higher education institutions, including Danville Community College, Patrick Henry Community College, Southside Virginia Community College, the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, and the New College Institute.

As these early GO Virginia projects reflect, the Commonwealth’s higher education institutions are at the center of the innovation ecosystem and play a central role in driving entrepreneurship, workforce preparation, and job creation in Virginia. To learn more about the GO Virginia program and the role Virginia’s colleges, universities, and community colleges are playing in regional economic development, visit