Virginia Technology Councils’ 2021 Policy Agenda

The Virginia Technology Councils’ 2021 Policy Agenda is a collaborative summary statement created by the tech councils in Virginia in December 2020

Education & Workforce Development
In order for Virginia’s businesses to grow and thrive, they need well-trained and highly skilled employees. In the technology industry, Virginia continues to experience a shortage of trained workers.  Virginia’s Tech Councils support the following efforts to increase our workforce:

  • Funding for G3: ‘Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back’
    • G3 will make tuition-free community college available to low- and middle-income students who pursue jobs in high-demand fields such as information technology. It will provide financial support to cover tuition, fees, and books for eligible students at the Commonwealth’s two-year public institutions, as well as wraparound assistance for students at the lowest income levels.
  • Funding for Fast Forward
    • FastForward is a short-term workforce training program through the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) to train Virginians for industry credentials and certifications for the most in-demand jobs across the Commonwealth.
  • Funding for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) Talent Accelerator Program and Virginia Jobs Investment Program
    • Additional funding for two worker training programs at VEDP was unallotted during the 2020 session. Over the last five fiscal years, Virginia Jobs Investment Program (VJIP) has assisted nearly 75 companies in the technology industry, creating over 13,000 jobs and almost $300 million in capital investment. The Virginia Talent Accelerator Program, launched in 2019, accelerates new facility start-ups through the direct delivery of recruitment and training services that are fully customized to a company’s unique products, processes, equipment, standards, and culture.
  • State Review of Implementation of Computer Science Education
    • A comprehensive review of the ongoing implementation of mandatory computer science standards as well as alignment of course pathways, including implementation best practices and opportunities for enhanced collaboration with stakeholders.

IT Procurement
The Commonwealth is home to a vibrant industry of technology companies employing thousands of Virginians. Many of these technology companies offer high-value, innovative solutions increasing access to and improving the efficiency of our state government. Virginia’s Tech Councils support

  • Policies to ensure that the Commonwealth’s procurement process is open, transparent and promote a culture of creativity and competition.
  • In these uncertain times, use available resources to fund much needed one-time expenses including procuring upgrades to several long-deferred information technology systems and modernizing public agencies and networks to better communicate and adapt to a rapidly changing work environment.
  • Keeping burdensome taxes and regulations to a minimum, especially as additional costs ultimately get passed back to the Commonwealth in the form of higher priced procurement.

Innovation and Economic Development
Virginia has made great strides in laying the foundation for long term growth of our technology industry including restructuring our state level programs and creating the Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority (VIPA).  Additionally, significant investments in education and workforce development continue to increase our potential for growth.  Virginia’s Tech Councils support the following efforts to strengthen our efforts to grow and recruit Virginia-based IT businesses:

  • Increase funding for the Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority
    • The VIPA Regional Investment Fund was established through legislation but not funded during the 2020 session. This program will help businesses grow and thrive by building critical ecosystems in all regions of the Commonwealth and provide support in areas where programs like GO Virginia are unable to help.
  • Increase flexibility for GO Virginia and VEDP Grants for businesses implementing remote work
    • Additional flexibility is needed for businesses seeking existing economic development grants and assistance, but whose capital investment is limited due to significant remote work. Allowing more flexibility in a rapidly changing office environment would increase our ability to grow businesses and create jobs in changing business models across Virginia.
  • Expand and Diversify Key Technology Sectors
    • The Commonwealth is home to several key existing and emerging technologies and our agencies and resources should be utilized to help these sectors expand and diversify. In recent years, policymakers have worked diligently to support many of these areas including Unmanned Systems (land, sea, air), Cybersecurity, Smart Communities, Extended/Virtual/Augmented Reality, Biomedical, and Renewable Energy Technologies.
  • Data Centers
    • Support maintaining Virginia’s competitive position as a global leader in the data center market by protecting the existing data center investment incentives. As our communities rely more heavily on work from home and virtual education, these data centers are what make it all possible.

Broadband Access
Universal access to affordable broadband is essential to every Virginian in order to compete in today’s global economy, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made high-speed internet even more critical.  Virginia’s Tech Councils support ongoing efforts to fund broadband deployment in all corners of the Commonwealth and reduce red tape and barriers that make deployment more difficult.