COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va – Virginia’s Gateway Region Economic Development Organization (VGR) welcomed business and community leaders from across the Richmond MSA to commemorate another year of success and achievement working together to create jobs and support local business at their 57th Annual Meeting on Wednesday, February 28.
VGR Board of Directors Chairman Victor Branch (Bank of America) welcomed guests to the event, shedding light on the importance of VGR’s work in the region and their insightful five-year strategic plan to create 3,000 jobs by 2020.
Members of VGR’s Board of Directors joined Branch to recognize VGR’s long-time President & CEO Renee Chapline for her thirteen years of dedicated service to the region. During Chapline’s tenure, VGR welcomed 231 company announcements, creating nearly 20 thousand jobs and about $5.5 billion of capital investment. Chapline recently began her new position as Vice President of Communications & Government Affairs at Prince George Electric Cooperative.
Renee Chapline shared the results of a 10-year organizational evaluation completed in 2017 by Sustained Impact of Boston, MA. Commanded and funded by The Cameron Foundation, the comprehensive review validated VGR’s practices and accomplishments since 2005 and benchmarked its efforts and metrics against other regional economic development groups. Study results proved VGR’s undeniable contribution to the region’s economy as a result of their successful five-year strategic initiatives to not only create jobs and capital investment, but also provide more opportunities for residents to support local businesses. In the comparative study of other regional EDO’s, the report concluded that VGR’s range of services, activity, and results far surpassed that of other organizations reviewed, despite having a smaller annual budget and fewer employees.
“As you can imagine, the VGR team is thrilled with the results of the study, however there is still work to be done,” said Chapline. “We are so grateful for The Cameron Foundation’s tremendous support of economic development in the region.”
During a regional update, VGR Interim President & CEO Emily Salmon announced that the organization has achieved half of their five-year goal to welcome 50 announcements to the Gateway Region by 2020. Following the completion of the second year of VGR’s five-year strategic plan Global 3.0, the region has announced 25 business locations and expansions, creating 1,075 jobs and $276.6 million capital investment.
“I truly believe in the potential of our region and look forward to many more exciting announcements over the coming years,” said Salmon. “Thank you to our Board of Directors and corporate and community partners for your commitment to creating quality jobs for our citizens and for your unwavering support of our organization.
Salmon unveiled VGR’s new website which provides corporate and community leaders worldwide with easy-to-find information on the Gateway Region’s world-class assets. The website’s cross-platform functionality and automated international translation capabilities provide a user-friendly experience on all devices, globally. Richmond-based The Hatchery developed the new website.
Lockheed Martin’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Manager Ahmed Jbara delivered an insightful address on cybersecurity as it pertains to economic development.
“We had 350,000 cybersecurity job openings in 2017, and that number continues to grow,” said Jbara. “While cybersecurity certainly poses a threat to businesses, it also provides a great opportunity for growth.”
WTVR CBS 6’s Bill Fitzgerald served as the master of ceremonies at the event. Signature event sponsors were Prince George Electric Cooperative and Old Dominion Electric Cooperative.