RICHMOND, VA – The Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday passed HB 834 and HB 846, the legislative centerpieces of the “Virginia Initiative for Growth and Opportunity in Each Region” or GO Virginia with major bipartisan support. GO Virginia is a business-led, bipartisan initiative to provide a new framework for strengthening Virginia’s economy by encouraging collaboration between business leaders, the education community, local government, and state government.
House Bill 834, carried by House Majority Leader Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) and Delegate Luke Torian (D-Prince William), establishes the Growth and Opportunity Board, the framework for local regional boards, and the “GO! Grant” program to provide start-up funding for innovative and transformational projects to boost private sector growth. HB834 passed the House 93 to 7.
“GO Virginia is an innovative concept that will help grow and strengthen the economy so our families and businesses can thrive,” said House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford). “Members of both parties in the House of Delegates worked closely with the business community to advance these major pieces of legislation. I want to thank Majority Leader Cox, Caucus Chairman Hugo, and Delegates Torian and James for spearheading the legislative side of this effort. I also want to thank the GO Virginia leaders, especially Dubby Wynne, who worked tirelessly to develop these ideas.”
“Because Virginia is a diverse state and each region is different, a once-size-fits all approach won’t work,” said John O. “Dubby” Wynne, Chairman of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation and former CEO of Landmark Communications. “This is a bottom-up approach by which business, education, and local governments work together in each region to develop practical, transformational projects that will help the private sector, including both small and large businesses, grow. We appreciate the broad, bipartisan endorsement of this approach, evident in in today’s strong, affirmative vote in the House.”
“GO Virginia is a major bipartisan, business-led initiative to align the business community, the higher education community, state government and local government in order to foster private-sector growth, strengthen our workforce, promote local collaboration, and maximize our economic development resources,” said Majority Leader Cox. “My legislation establishes a bottom-up, regionally-focused framework to invest in projects that will result in real, long-term private sector growth. This framework will give business leaders a greater voice in, and improve the transparency of, our economic development investments. I want to thank my Chief Co-Patron Delegate Luke Torian for his work on this effort.”
“The Growth and Opportunity Board and the regional framework established by this legislation will bring the necessary stakeholders together to foster sustainable private sector growth,” said Delegate Torian. “I am excited to join Virginia’s business leaders and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this major initiative. I believe it will have a positive, long-term impact on the Commonwealth.”
House Bill 846, carried by House Majority Caucus Chairman Tim Hugo (R-Fairfax), Delegate Randy Minchew (R-Loudoun), and Delegate Matthew James (D-Portsmouth), incentivizes localities to work together on economic development by allowing the participating localities to receive a portion of the tax revenues resulting from the collaboration. The six year grant will equal up to half of the tax revenues from the joint project. In order to qualify for the grant localities must have a cost and revenue sharing plan, meet a standard for number of jobs created. and have a specific plan for the use of the grant funds. House Bill 846 passed 93 to 5.
“This legislation will encourage bottom-up economic growth throughout the Commonwealth,” said Chairman Hugo. “Too often, localities are competing against each other to attract new start-ups or businesses from outside the Commonwealth. In the 21st century economy, however, commerce does not stop at county lines. HB 846 sets up an incentive structure to help localities work collaboratively to foster private-sector growth and attract new jobs. This will mean better jobs, higher wages and a better quality of life for our citizens. I appreciate the work of my colleagues, Delegate Minchew and Delegate James, on this bill.”
“Hampton Roads uniquely understands how local governments are often forced to compete for many of the same job creating projects,” said Delegate James. “This legislation encourages localities to work together by establishing a way for them to recapture some of the revenue from these projects. The recaptured revenue can then be used to make additional investments that will foster private-sector growth and create jobs. I want to thank Chairman Hugo and all of my colleagues for working with me on this legislation.”