Jim Dyke Highlights Importance of Diversifying Virginia’s Economy

February 3, 2020

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In a Feb. 2 opinion piece in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, McGuireWoods Consulting senior advisor, Jim Dyke, detailed the importance of diversifying the economy in Virginia, and how the GO Virginia initiative works to accomplish this goal.

Launched four years ago, the GO Virginia initiative brought together Virginia’s senior business leadership and performed an analysis on the current state of Virginia’s economy. At that time, the report showed that Virginia was lagging behind the rate of economic growth of the country as a whole, as well as neighboring states.

“It also showed our economy was becoming less diverse and less likely to create high-paying jobs that are essential to economic prosperity,” Dyke said. “These disturbing facts then rippled through the economy and manifested in lower state and local tax proceeds that are essential to fund local services, particularly education at both the K-12 and post-secondary levels.”

Faced with a net out-migration of population and a failure to make important investments in areas that would enhance the Commonwealth’s future competitiveness, GO Virginia worked to create incentives to get localities to work together with stakeholders to grow and diversify the economy in every region of the state.

“Since December 2017 when the first items were approved, GO Virginia has now approved 60 projects valued at nearly $30 million to lay the foundation for restoring the competitiveness of Virginia’s economy. These state funds have leveraged more than $35 million in other non-state funds,” he said. “Evidence points to a number of areas where these regional partnerships are creating jobs, enhancing skills, spurring innovation and bringing new sites on line to reposition the Virginia economy.”

Gov. Northam has recommended full funding for GO Virginia in the upcoming biennial budget, allowing Virginia’s regions to continue to make progress. As challenges arise, GO Virginia will be able to tackle them, leading the business community to look for ways to align curriculum with where the economy is headed.

“We need to continue to build on what the state is already doing by investing in industry-recognized credentials and institutional performance agreements for our colleges and universities,” Dyke said. “And finally, we all need to continue to advance the cause of early childhood education in this state as the foundation for everything else we do in education and talent development. There is no doubt in my mind that the payoff from these efforts would pay dividends for decades.”