In an effort to enhance collaboration and reset VEDP for the future, Board Chairman Chris Lumsden and Vice Chairman Dan Clemente set out on a listening tour in January. Approximately 110 economic development and public officials attended the seven meetings and represented more than 80 counties, towns and cities across Virginia. The listening tour drew multiple overarching themes, chief among these being the need for VEDP to: be more adaptable and flexible with its services and programs; keep regional and local economic development communities informed and engaged; find more effective ways to deliver greater value to existing businesses and partners working business attraction activities; and, lastly, be a leader that fosters synergies and brings unity among all economic developers in the Commonwealth. Following the conclusion of the tour, the board set an action plan in place to be implemented with ongoing input from the board, staff, and partners through December 2016.
Meanwhile, production remains strong. In recent weeks, more than 20 projects were announced, including several signature deals—ADP, Deschutes Brewery and ELDOR Corporation—that will have significant impacts on the Roanoke Valley and Hampton Roads regions. ADP, the global human resources firm, announced it will create 1,800 jobs and invest more than $30 million when the company moves to the heart of downtown Norfolk. Deschutes, one of the largest U.S. craft breweries, announced plans to hire more than 100 people when it makes an $85 million investment in its first East Coast operation. Italy-based automotive parts manufacturer ELDOR Corporation selected Botetourt County for its first North American production plant and announced plans to hire 350 employees and make a $75 million investment. All three companies made their announcements to packed crowds within seven days of each other—a banner week for the Commonwealth and VEDP.
While this was occurring, the Governor and General Assembly were busy considering, and agreeing upon, new resources to help VEDP continue to bring more jobs and investment to all communities. An additional $5.1 million per year in funding was provided for FY17. We are extremely pleased with that number; it will help support business attraction, business expansion and international trade initiatives, including employer-led job training through an enhanced VJIP program, resources for the Going Global Defense Initiative, and a new first-of-its-kind initiative in the nation to propel sustained growth companies.
Yes, this has been a busy and productive quarter for VEDP. We don’t expect it to slow down (why have it any other way?). As we move deeper into 2016, the Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission (JLARC) will be fully engaged with our staff as partners to help guide us toward our new direction. And, in the upcoming quarter, we will quite literally find ourselves with a new look. We will move into new, more functional, headquarters space for the first time in two decades and will roll out a dynamic new brand to market Virginia across the globe.
I’m excited and confident for this journey and trust that you are as well.
Daniel C. Gundersen
Interim President and CEO and Chief Operating Officer