Investors Circle speaker highlights education as an economic driver
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Twice a year, Investors Circle offers donors an opportunity to hear thought-provoking speakers. This November, Stephen Moret, president and CEO of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP), shared his personal experiences and reflections on Virginia’s economic expansion.
Above all, he stressed the importance of an educated, talented workforce in attracting new business to Virginia. And Moret should know, having recently led the state’s successful bid for Amazon’s HQ2.
Moret on winning Amazon –
“Virginia principally competes on talent and not on incentives.
We’re already investing $1.1 billion on tech talent development –
and VCU is one of our 11 participating universities.”
While Moret praised the state’s focus on education, he quickly countered with his personal list of “stuff we still need to do.” Starting with increasing digital infrastructure (i.e., rural broadband access), his goals include connecting more people to education and good jobs, modernizing the tax code and creating more tech centers in rural and small metro areas.
As for winning Amazon, Moret said it was definitely a team effort, and Virginia simply offered the most competitive location option – especially with respect to current and future tech talent. After offering his congratulations, Dean Grier jumped in with a query that had his listeners nodding their heads in agreement: “So, overall, what do we need to do next?”
Moret did not hesitate. “Decide economic development is a priority for Virginia. The entire Commonwealth must not just support development, but participate in it.”
Moret on Richmond’s future –
“RVA is the next hot, mid-sized metro. This region is on the cusp.
It’s a question of when, not if, we’ll break out.”
This year, CNBC named Virginia as the number one state for business. Yes, agreed Moret, but in order to maintain that honor (and win it from other ranking organizations), the process is as important as the result. State growth and stellar rankings require collaboration with many stakeholders and organizations. It’s important that “every region wins.” Success can’t be completely centered in large metropolitan areas but should be encouraged statewide. “Northern Virginia is constrained by housing costs,” points out Moret. “I’m not ready to give up on rural America – or rural Virginia.”
As the evening came to a close, Chief Development Officer Shannon Duvall took the stage to thank Moret, her development team and the enthusiastic audience. “We appreciate you supporting our faculty, programs and scholarships,” she said – offering yet another example of driving the future of business by investing in people and education.