Governor announces partnerships to leverage higher education for economic development

economic-forecast-headerGovernor Terry McAuliffe announced this week that Virginia’s public institutions of higher education renewed and expanded their commitment to economic development.  College and university leaders signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP), the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), and the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT).

Speaking about today’s announcement, Governor McAuliffe said, “Virginia’s economic strengths are in its workforce and business friendly climate. Partnerships between higher education and economic development are vital to our efforts to establish a new Virginia economy that is responsive to business needs and creates greater employment opportunities for our graduates.”

The MOU opens additional opportunities for partnership and includes multiple initiatives, including:

  • Increasing connectivity between institutions of higher education and business clients at all stages of development, including entrepreneurial, high-growth, and mature businesses.
  • Building brand awareness of Virginia’s innovation system and capabilities of its higher education partners.
  • Mapping the strengths and opportunities between economic development and research across Virginia’s public institutions of higher education.
  • Identifying and supporting shared legislative priorities that enhance higher education connectivity with business-driven priorities.

The new agreement builds upon a prior MOU signed in 2012.  It expands the partnership concept by adding CIT and placing greater emphasis on working together on economic development issues. This expanded partnership is expected to increase corporate contacts and project leads, improve internships and direct hire opportunities for Virginia graduates, and create a compilation of the respective economic development strengths of Virginia’s public institutions of higher education, including research and equipment capacity.

“We are pleased to continue the partnership,” said Martin Briley, President and CEO of VEDP. “Workforce is a key consideration for any business looking to expand or locate in Virginia. Our ability to deliver a workforce that is well prepared with the technical and soft skills companies require is critical to economic development. The outcomes of this effort will develop Virginia’s reputation as a leader for meeting the needs of business.”

“CIT is excited to be part of this important partnership,” said Peter Jobse, President of CIT. “Our relationship with VEDP and with Virginia’s great universities is critical to successfully accomplishing our mission to grow innovation and entrepreneurship in the Commonwealth”.

“Virginia has a strong higher education system. From our leading research institutions to community colleges within 30 miles of nearly every resident, we are able to offer higher educational opportunities to every Virginian,” said John Broderick, Chair of the Virginia Council of Presidents and President of Old Dominion University.  “Whether it is through on-campus instruction, flexible on-line education, and continuing education, we want businesses to know about the breadth of services we can provide to meet their current and future needs.”

Last fall, SCHEV approved a statewide strategic plan that focuses on four key goal areas, including advancement of the economic and cultural prosperity of the Commonwealth and its regions:

“SCHEV’s role is to support statewide initiatives by bringing together the strengths of our institutions,” said Peter Blake, Director of SCHEV.  “Virginia is a great place to work and live. We want our students to receive a quality education and stay here to work and raise a family.  These partnerships promote that concept.”

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