The Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership is a collaboration between the Dulles Regional, Greater Reston and Loudoun County chambers of commerce. The Partnership collectively represents more than 2,800 businesses and 100,000 jobs, providing an unparalleled voice for Northern Virginia’s business community in Richmond. The Partnership is represented by Access Point Public Affairs.
Our 2013 Partnership Priorities are to:
• Secure new, sustainable, reliable, long-term regional and statewide transportation funding to meet our critical transportation construction and maintenance needs.
• Secure additional state funding to support completion of the Dulles Corridor Rail Project in order to minimize the impact of increasing tolls for Dulles Toll Road users and ensure that one of the Commonwealth’s major economic development drivers remains affordably accessible.
• Maintain support for the vast array of economic investment and policy tools that enable the Commonwealth to attract and retain jobs and employers to Virginia.
• Support making Virginia’s legal system as business-friendly as possible through a series of reform bills that will provide additional economic development tools to attract and retain businesses to Virginia.
• Invest in and support conventional four-year degree programs, as well as highly-technical, specialized workforce training with continued emphasis in the science, technology, engineering, math and health – or STEM-H – fields.
• Invest in and support efforts to ensure Virginia has a competitive K-12 education system to enable us to meet the workforce needs of the future through strengthening teaching in the classroom, injecting greater innovation into education, rewarding creativity and success, and ensuring accountability in our education system.
• Protect employers and their employees from any negative impact federal healthcare reform legislation may create as state-level policy and regulations are developed.
The following provides additional details on the Partnership’s focus for the 2013 General Assembly session.
Efforts to secure new, sustainable, reliable, long-term regional and statewide transportation funding to meet our critical transportation construction and maintenance needs continues to be a top priority to the Partnership. Any package introduced to address this challenge should be balanced and equitable, and capable of taking significant steps toward eliminating Virginia’s well-documented transportation deficit. The Partnership strongly believes that while a statewide solution to the maintenance problem must be implemented, in addition, Northern Virginia needs a minimum of $400 million in new funding per year that is not viewed as a replacement for existing funds to address our region’s needs. This includes protecting the funds within the Transportation Trust Fund, encouraging public-private partnership projects, and continuing to identify ways to increase the use of technology and improved efficiencies within our transportation system. The Partnership also supports the use of a portion of General Fund money for transportation purposes, given the tremendous transportation needs that face the Commonwealth and the fact that transportation funding is a core government service that is the state’s responsibility to fund.
In addition, the Partnership strongly supports completion of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project to Washington Dulles International Airport and eastern Loudoun County, and securing additional federal, state and private-sector funding to reduce projected toll increase levels associated with the project. This is a critical priority to the Partnership.
The Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership believes Virginia should maintain a high level of financial and personnel resources to continue to enable an aggressive and comprehensive national and international marketing and outreach program that leverages the Commonwealth’s strongest economic assets, including industry sectors where Virginia possesses a clear competitive advantage.
The Partnership encourages the General Assembly to invest fully in the various business incentive programs to encourage business investment in Virginia. The Partnership supports continued funding of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) incentive programs, as well as maintenance of recent investments that have been made to the Governor’s Opportunity Fund, and an emphasis on policies that broaden the eligibility requirements, enabling firms in Northern Virginia that increase local tax revenues to qualify for critical economic development incentives.
The Partnership also encourages the VEDP to continue its work to develop state incentive programs that focus on company retention and recruitment, and give greater priority within these incentive programs to encourage the creation of higher paying jobs, like those in Northern Virginia.
In addition to the initiatives outlined above, the Partnership strongly supports efforts to ensure that Virginia’s legal system is as business-friendly as possible, which is critical to the Commonwealth’s ability to attract and retain businesses. To this end, the Partnership is actively working as a member of the Virginia Alliance for Tort Reform (VATR), which is a coalition of Virginia businesses and advocacy organizations supporting pro-business reforms of Virginia’s civil justice system. The Partnership supports common sense reforms which will promote fairness, efficiency, and a more favorable business climate in Virginia. During these tough economic times, Virginia must do all that it can to strengthen its business environment through increased protections and make Virginia even more attractive for economic development.
As we consider how best to create a 21st century workforce, we must invest and focus on conventional four-year degree programs, as well as highly-technical, specialized workforce training with continued emphasis in the science, technology, engineering, math and health – or STEM-H – fields.
The Partnership also recognizes that we cannot underestimate the importance of a globally competitive K-12 education system to our workforce development. The most important investment Virginia can make is in human capital. The jobs of the future and the ability of our businesses to compete rests in having a well-trained workforce. Beyond the skills and knowledge required of workers, we must be able to recruit the best and the brightest to Virginia and to do that, we need to offer the best schools to families looking to relocate. An excellent school should be a guarantee to every child. We all agree that every child deserves the chance to be college- or career-ready at graduation. Unfortunately, not every child in the Commonwealth is provided such an opportunity. Virginia must confront the inequities in our education system and ensure that all children have a chance for success.
This includes strengthening teaching in our classrooms, holding Virginia’s teachers to the highest standards, offering them regular opportunities to sharpen their skills, and rigorously evaluating and paying our teachers appropriately.
We also must inject greater innovation into education. The Partnership supports innovation in our classrooms and school divisions to ensure that our students are prepared at graduation for college or the workforce. Greater use of technology and consideration of charter schools to allow for greater flexibility with curriculum and student population are options that should be considered and utilized more often. We have one of the weakest charter school laws in the country and no real means for holding failing schools accountable. Innovation also occurs through the partnership of our post-secondary and secondary institutions through dual enrollment courses, which allow for college-level coursework for college credit while in high school or through the establishment of college lab schools. These are all initiatives Virginia should be supporting to enable greater innovation in the classroom.
The Partnership recognizes the importance of and supports all of the colleges and universities, both public and private, which provide high quality undergraduate, graduate and professional education to Northern Virginia’s residents. The Partnership supports positioning the Commonwealth’s public and private higher education institutions to play a full role in shaping job creation in a global knowledge-based economy, and calls on the Commonwealth’s elected leaders to reverse a decade of reduction in state funding for higher education that has shifted the burden of funding to students and families.
The Partnership recognizes the importance of the healthcare industry to the economy and the community, and supports federal and state reimbursement levels that do not harm providers or result in a shift of the payment burden to the private sector.
The Partnership is extremely concerned with the impact of federal healthcare reform legislation on the business community and urges careful consideration of the impact of any policy change or development of regulations in this arena. The Partnership specifically supports legislation that ensures access to affordable and stable group health insurance for all businesses, including sole proprietors and small businesses. The Partnership supports legislation that reduces state burdens and provides tax incentives to help small businesses offset the staggering increases in health insurance costs, including incentives that encourage participation in “consumer-driven” healthcare and wellness plans. We support initiatives that improve quality and lower costs, encourage fair regulation of the insurance market, build a robust healthcare marketplace for consumers, expand the use of healthcare IT, create an emphasis on prevention and wellness, and promote pay-for-performance.
The Partnership supports collaborative efforts between healthcare stakeholders, including providers, purchasers, insurers and consumers, to ensure continued innovation, creativity, and transformation in the healthcare marketplace. The goals of these efforts should include the following:
• Expansion of healthcare infrastructure (both inpatient and outpatient) to meet community needs;
• Increase in the supply of well-trained medical personnel;
• Effective management of healthcare costs impacting businesses;
• Promotion of workplace and community wellness initiatives;
• Increased accessibility of healthcare and insurance;
• Enhanced quality, choice, unbiased data transparency, and diminished redundancies and waste in healthcare; and
• Appropriate planning for emergency preparedness and public-private partnerships to address pandemic preparedness.