Hundreds of participants and speakers emerged from the 68th Virginia Conference on World Trade with two shared conclusions: international trade remains crucial to the health and growth of the state economy, and Virginia must work to improve exporting levels.
“Over 30 percent of economic activity in Virginia comes from exports,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore. “$36 billion in revenues come from international trade. We’re doing everything from soybeans to cybersecurity.”
Serving eight different counties including Sussex and Surry, as well as Prince George, Dinwiddie, Petersburg, Hopewell, Colonial Heights and Chesterfield, Virginia’s Gateway Region has been servicing the enhancement of economic development in the Southern Virginia area since 1960.
“We are 75 percent funded by the private sector, and 25 percent by the public sector,” VGR President and CEO Renee Chapline said. “Our budget averages as about a million dollars per year, and of that amount, the five counties and three cities pay in 25 percent of than in order to have their economic development initiatives prepared. We do all of their marketing, all of their research analysis and bring companies to evaluate the entire region.”
For the first time in the post’s nearly 100-year history, a sitting president visited Fort Lee, creating an unexpected midweek stir at the usually sedate Prince George installation. On Wednesday, President Barack Obama traveled via Air Force One and helicopter to Fort Lee for a two-pronged visit that included a town hall hosted by CNN and a meet-and-greet with service people and Tri-Cities notables.
Virginia’s Community Colleges are off to a promising start in their quest to triple the number of credentials students earn annually by the year 2021. As the VCCS celebrates its 50th anniversary, the 2016 class was the most successful in history, reaching record numbers for both individual graduates and credentials earned. This past spring’s graduations also represented the end of the first year of the VCCS’s six-year statewide strategic plan, Complete 2021, which established the goal of tripling credentials.
Governor Terry McAuliffe visited the Hillphoenix manufacturing facility on Ruffin Mill Road on Tuesday afternoon. McAuliffe toured the facility, which makes refrigerated grocery displays, shook hands with workers, operated a break press, and joked about his recent photo op with Willie Nelson. McAuliffe hailed the successes of the New Virginia Economy, and job training and retraining programs offered by Virginia community colleges.
The port broke its single-month record for container volume in August, making it the busiest month in its history, the Port of Virginia announced Tuesday. A total of 235,511 containers, measured in standard 20-foot units, or TEUs, moved through the port, a 7 percent increase from the same month a year ago. August marked the seventh consecutive month of container volumes of more than 210,000 TEUs.
If Virginia’s Gateway Region were receiving a performance review, its rating for the past five years would have to be “exceeds expectations.” And if that track record is any indication, Central Virginia can look forward to thousands of new jobs and close to $1 billion in investments in the next five years.
After nearly two years of work by Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center for Urban and Regional Analysis, the Greater Richmond Partnership and Virginia’s Economic Development Partnership, Virginia’s Gateway Region economic development organization, has announced their implementation of the Metro Richmond Exports Initiative. MREI is a pilot program — the first of its kind in Virginia.
Within a matter of hours, hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in capital investment were announced in the Gateway Region as a result of two new companies finalizing their plans to build facilities to better serve their target market.
After nearly two years of research, two Richmond-area economic development groups said Thursday they are implementing a plan this fall to help small and medium-sized businesses in the region export their products and services to international markets.