Growth4VA Launches Campaign Calling on Governor and General Assembly to Seize Once-in-Generations Chance To Invest in Higher Education
September 9th, 2021
September 9, 2021

Growth4VA Launches Campaign Calling on Governor and General Assembly to Seize Once-in-Generations Chance To Invest in Higher Education

RICHMOND, VA — The Virginia Business Higher Education Council (VBHEC) launched its Growth4VA campaign today, announcing that a statewide coalition of business, education and community leaders and grassroots supporters will urge Virginia’s elected leaders to seize a once-in-generations chance to invest in higher education. Transformational investments that create affordable talent pathways will position Virginia as the nation’s talent-to-opportunity leader, expanding job and career options for young and adult Virginians and enhancing the competitive economic advantage Virginia gains from having a top-tier higher education system.

Growth4VA will advocate for investments in higher education to ensure educational and employment access for all Virginians. The group released policy recommendations supporting each of its four strategic goals:

TALENT – Make Virginia THE talent-to-opportunity leader and top state for talent by creating a diverse array of accessible pathways from learning to earning.

AFFORDABILITY – Ensure that all Virginians have affordable and equitable access to excellent educational and job opportunities right here in the Commonwealth.

INNOVATION – Enhance entrepreneurship, resilience, and the quality of life throughout Virginia through advanced research and problem-solving innovation.

OPPORTUNITY – Create opportunities for Virginians of all backgrounds to attain resilient and rewarding careers, live fulfilling lives, and improve their communities, commonwealth, and country.
“Our goal is to empower Virginians of all races, regions, backgrounds, and circumstances to access well-paying jobs and careers in a growing and diversifying Virginia economy,” said VBHEC chair Dennis H. Treacy, Senior Counsel of ReedSmith LLP. “We believe we can best accomplish this by creating a diverse array of affordable talent pathways through which young and adult Virginians can get great education and training, including an internship or other valuable work-based experience, and then move into good Virginia-based jobs after graduation.”

“The dual focus on opportunity for individual Virginians and on strengthening the state’s workforce and economy is very intentional,” observed Dr. Makola Abdullah, president of Virginia State University, chair of the Council of Presidents, and a member of VBHEC’s governing board. “The two go together.  When we give everyone access and equip them for success, we broaden the talent pool, and we make Virginia even more attractive to business investors, job creators, innovators, and entrepreneurs.”

Neighboring states now are out-investing Virginia by thousands per in-state student.

In 2011, Virginia formally adopted a policy calling for the state to pay two-thirds of the cost of higher education, but currently the state pays only about half, requiring Virginia’s students and families to make up the difference.

“This is a moment we cannot afford to miss,” commented Nancy Howell Agee, VBHEC’s vice chair and President and CEO of Carilion Clinic. “The large state budget surplus creates a unique opportunity to ease the burden on tuition-paying families, recover competitive ground we’ve lost to neighboring states, and tap the full talent potential of our wonderfully diverse state and its people.”

“The business community recognizes that our higher education system sets Virginia apart, and we are deeply grateful for the support our colleges have received from governors and legislative majorities of both parties,” commented Todd A. Stottlemyer, VBHEC’s treasurer and CEO of CNSI, Inc.  “The next governor, regardless of which candidate wins, will come into office at a time when the state has both the resources to invest and a powerful vision for investing them in the talents of our people.”

“We have a chance to put Virginia on the leading edge of the most important educational and economic innovation in decades, making our state a magnet for talent and investment,” observed George Keith Martin, VBHEC’s secretary and a partner at McGuireWoods LLP. “The impact on career opportunities for Virginians, including many first-generation and low-income students, will be truly transformational.”

As part of its campaign launch, Growth4VA unveiled a new website and video detailing its plan to make Virginia the nation’s talent-to-opportunity leader, ensure affordability and access, promote problem-solving innovation, and facilitate lifelong opportunities.

In preparation for Growth4VA’s fall campaign push, members of VBHEC’s governing board met individually with gubernatorial candidates Terry McAuliffe and Glenn Youngkin to brief them on the group’s policy proposals and on new survey results showing Virginians’ support for Growth4VA’s proposals. Youngkin and McAuliffe have accepted invitations to address a conference on higher education and workforce development sponsored by VBHEC and the Virginia Chamber of Commerce in Richmond on October 20.

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