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Business leaders meet to discuss Virginia’s sluggish economy at Loudoun chamber event

Business leaders from across the region gathered July 27 with representatives of Blueprint Virginia and GO Virginia to discuss how to help Virginia’s economy at a Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce-hosted event.

GO Virginia is a coalition of businesses and organizations who wish to encourage an increase of education and collaboration of business and community leaders across regional borders. Blueprint Virginia is the Virginia Chamber or Commerce's long-term economic development plan that considers the opinions of business leaders across the state.

Barry DuVal, president and CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, was quick to note Virginia is below the national GDP growth average of 1.5 percent at 0.6 percent.

“When has this state ever thought of itself as average, and we are below average. And we have been for a long time,” said John Wynne of GO Virginia.

Wynne attributed Virginia’s lack of economic success to what he considers superficial job growth. While employers have more than doubled the number of jobs lost during the 2008 recession, Wynn said those jobs are paying 70 cents to the dollar.

“Why do you think we had a million or two shortfall in revenue? Because the jobs aren’t paying as much,” Wynn said.

According to Wynne, for the first time since World War II there has been three consecutive years of out-migration of Virginia’s best talent. He said this is because there are better job opportunities in other states and regions.

In addition to his thoughts on job growth, Wynn thinks Virginia's less than 4 percent unemployment rate is artificial and not a true indicator of Virginia’s economic health. He said the unemployment rate is low because people who couldn’t find work left the state, and those that did find jobs sometimes were previously full-time employees but were rehired into lower-paying, part-time jobs.

“Higher-paying jobs create lower-paying jobs, the opposite is not true,” Wynne said. “If you don’t have more higher-paying jobs you are not taking care of lower socioeconomic people.”

However, Wynne said that creating high-paying jobs isn’t about charity, it’s how you grow a business and make money.

“Six billion downdraft in our gross state products,” Wynne said. “You want to know why we had a shortfall of a billion too? We don’t have the jobs. People are not getting paid enough, they’re not paying the income tax. Therefore we have a shortfall.”

Another economic factor discussed was education. In a poll taken by Blueprint Virginia, the attendees of the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce event ranked education as the most important policy for economic growth, followed by technology and transportation.

“Early childhood education has become nonpartisan now,” DuVal said. “We believe the business community support for that has made a difference.”

Blueprint Virginia estimates by 2025 there will be 800,000 new jobs available in Virginia, as well as one million new retirees. In order to fill the positions needed, Blueprint Virginia and GO Virginia believe there needs to be an emphasis on education.

James Dyke Jr., senior adviser for Virginia state government relations with McGuire Woods Consulting, said “the business community needs to be working closely with the school system to make sure we are providing them with the kinds of skills students will need in order to be employable in the commonwealth.

“It’s one thing to teach them A, B and C, but if the jobs demand D, E and F, they’re not gonna get the jobs,” Dyke said.

Dyke said this meant implementing code writing in schools' curriculum and having an emphasis on the STEM fields to match the commonwealth’s growing cybersecurity industry.

The overarching message of the day was to keep Virginia’s economy growing changes need to be made. Businesses need to get involved in their communities and talk to their public officials in order to make these changes happen.

Contact the writer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), on Twitter @HeymannAmelia or on Facebook @journalistAmeliaHeymann.


nah…“over-regulation” isn’t keeping jobs out of virginia.

and, expansion of medicaid actually helps business recruit a healthy workforce, especially in dealing with the opioid and drug crisis.  Failure to pass drug testing is a major impediment to hiring many workers.

With a Governor like McCauliffe, businesses are fleeing or just cant make it under the heavy burden of regulation…guy is interested more in wind farms and expanding medicaid—neither of which is appealing to profitable businesses.

Stop Illegal immigration and you’ll stop driving down wages.

But, I thought McAuliffe said the state is doing great??

Most small businesses can’t afford to hire new full time employees because of the new high costs of health care. If they need more employees, they can only afford to hire them at part-time. Part-time employees are not included in the job statistics and they make significantly less.

Another point. There are many businesses in Loudoun that pays their employees under the table and county/state which ones but don’t do anything. So, not only are employees not paying taxes on income, the business isn’t paying taxes. Times that by 100’s of businesses just in Loudoun. Many of these businesses deal in cash only.

Yeah, the Chamber isn’t a friend of small businesses. I’m curious as to who is going to afford $3K-5K/month for one of those apartments next to metro? Most of those small businesses near future metro stop are hurting, sitting empty, trying to hold off shutting down.

Maybe Virginia needs to look at the quality of the employment it backs.  The very strong backing for the tourisum industry produces many basic wage jobs that are becoming increasingly difficult to fill.

A closer look at the school curriculum might also help - so little
Tech/computer education available to our studentsz
In Europe children learn to code at 5 - Loudoun schools have this available in a couple of schools only. 


The chamber helped us get to the low points they talk about and now we are supposed to listen to this nonsense? They use polls as facts, lol! What shortfall? General fund revenues are going up yet just not as fast as Chamber wonks like. Beware the chamber they are not our friends!

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