A group of Virginia’s senior business leaders strongly believe the state economy needs to insulate itself. Why? Virginia’s economy has become too dependent on the federal budget and deep cuts would greatly affect the entire state.
These leaders took action and formed Go Virginia (Virginia Initiative for Growth and Opportunity in Each Region). The goal of the multi-year campaign is to foster collaboration between business, education, and the local governments within each region to find innovative ways to help the regions attract and retain private sector jobs that will insulate the state from those federal spending fluctuations, providing higher paying jobs in high tech industries. This will contribute to changing Virginia to an export economy with other states and even other countries.
Impact Makers was brought in to support this effort and we were glad to help.
Go Virginia maps the state into nine distinct geographic regions. Region 3 covers an area from Patrick County in the west, Brunswick County in the East, and Buckingham County to the North. This region is defined by having the largest footprint in square miles of all 9 regions and also the lowest population of any of the 9 regions. While Region 3 includes Martinsville, Danville, and South Boston, it is mostly rural and has been hard hit by the significant decreases in manufacturing in Virginia.
Impact Makers was asked to support development of Region 3’s Growth and Diversification plan by creating the Cyber Technology section that covered broadband expansion and planning for the economy of the Internet of Things (IoT). High speed and readily available broadband is seen as a key ingredient to the Region attracting more advanced manufacturing, high tech healthcare jobs, expanding its growing prominence in Data Warehousing, and providing a more attractive and cost effective location for business seeking to migrate from the Northern Virginia as well as other high cost-of-living areas across the country. Impact Makers reviewed the current “middle mile” infrastructure that has contributed to growth in the region, the “last mile” providers that are already in the region, and documented what methods were used to bring the infrastructure to where it is now. This information was combined with research in how other localities have solved their own broadband gaps to create recommendations and a roadmap on how to the Region as a whole could better enable expansion of both middle mile and last mile coverage for the region. These recommendations included insight into ways to make broadband more accessible to the regions underserved and less fortunate families so that they are not left behind as Region 3 moves forward. Additional recommendations provided points of research for the Region to explore to better understand how IoT will help the local governments, businesses, and the people living within Region 3.
We presented these findings as part of the August 29th Region 3 Council meetings that were held in South Boston and Keysville, Virginia. Also presented were the two main sections of the plan identifying Sectoral Development and Workforce Talent Development and Recruitment. These sections covered the much broader topics of what types of industries Region 3 is poised to pursue and how they can better position the people living in Region 3 to get the skills needed to fill those jobs.
Thanks to Rodney Boykin and Rod Willett for your hard work on this!