By Anne Cosgrove
From the November/December 2022 Issue
In October, Governor Glenn Youngkin unveiled the 2022 Virginia Energy Plan in Lynchburg, VA. The plan focuses on an all-of-the-above approach that harnesses nuclear, natural gas, renewables, and new energy sources to satisfy the increasing energy needs of the Commonwealth. The Plan also outlines an increase in nuclear energy and an objective to make Virginia the world’s leading nuclear innovation hub.
“A growing Virginia must have reliable, affordable and clean energy for Virginia’s families and businesses. We need to shift to realistic and dynamic plans,” said Gov. Youngkin at the time. “The 2022 Energy Plan will meet the power demands of a growing economy and ensures Virginia has that reliable, affordable, clean and growing supply of power by embracing an all-of-the-above energy plan that includes natural gas, nuclear, renewables and the exploration of emerging sources to satisfy the growing needs of Commonwealth residents and businesses.”
Meanwhile, workforce remains a top priority. The northernmost right-to-work state on the East Coast, Virginia is consistently ranked as a top state for business in the U.S. Ranked as America’s No. 3 Top State for Business by CNBC. Since 1972, the Commonwealth has had a stable 6% corporate income tax, lower than the national median of 6.5%. Virginia has also maintained a AAA rating since 1938, longer than any other state.
Home to the largest data center market in the world, the 3rd-largest port on the East Coast, a varied manufacturing base, an emerging unmanned systems industry, and the highest concentration of tech workers in the country, Virginia serves key national and global markets from a central East Coast location. A Virginia location means quality and stability for companies seeking the right place to expand and grow.
Business Facilities recently spoke with Gov. Youngkin about the latest for business and citizens in Virginia.
Business Facilities: When it comes to business growth and economic development overall, is there an accomplishment you are most proud of since taking office? In 2023, what is a top priority?
Gov. Youngkin: The decisions of the LEGO Group, Raytheon, and Boeing to plant their flags in Virginia soil are particularly exciting. These developments shine a global spotlight on the advantages that make the Commonwealth the best business location in the nation, and we’re thrilled to welcome them to their new home. On top of attracting more businesses, I am focused on expanding workforce development opportunities in 2023.
BF: What are target industries for Virginia? Please highlight a few companies that have chosen to locate or expand in your state during 2022 — what attracted decision-makers to the Commonwealth?
Gov. Youngkin: Virginia boasts a deep bench of talent and educational opportunities to support a range of industries—notably our incredible Agribusiness and Agtech sectors. We were pleased to welcome the Perdue Agribusiness to the City of Chesapeake in March with a $59.1 million investment along with Axxor, a global leader in paper honeycomb development and production, in June. Axxor’s $3.5 million investment was founded on the belief that Virginia’s local and state leadership was the strongest in the region, and rightfully so. On top of this, we recently recruited California-based Plenty Unlimited Inc. to build the world’s largest indoor vertical farming campus, a $300 million investment, right here in Chesterfield County. The future of Agtech is bright in the Commonwealth, and we were thrilled to welcome Beanstalk, an innovator in food production, to the Commonwealth in September, as well.
BF: Workforce remains a top concern across industries. What is the state doing to help ensure available, skilled workers for new and expanding businesses? Have you seen any shift in workforce priorities over the past year (e.g., child care availability, desired skillsets)?
Gov. Youngkin: The heart of a healthy economy is workforce development, and we’re starting our future economic endeavors by investing in our children first. We’ve done this by prioritizing collaboration with our partners in K-12 institutions to promote curriculum changes, the development of lab schools, and the expansion of dual enrollment programs at our community colleges. We are strengthening the talent pipeline and ensuring our children are workforce and career ready.
BF: With many businesses focused on energy availability, costs, and environmental impact, would you share what are the pillars of the recently announced 2022 Virginia Energy Plan? What advantages can the Plan offer for the state, its businesses, and residents? How might we see the Plan interplay with elements of the Virginia Clean Economy Act?
Gov. Youngkin: We must have reliable, affordable, and clean energy to support Virginia’s families and businesses; and the pillars of the 2022 Energy Plan are founded on just that. We can meet our power demands by embracing an all-of-the-above, all-American energy plan that includes natural gas, nuclear, renewables, and the exploration of emerging sources to satisfy the growing needs of the Commonwealth’s residents and businesses.
BF: Virginia is one state known for innovation in industry. What is your administration doing to support and encourage entrepreneurs and small businesses?
Gov. Youngkin: We recognize that investing in industry-responsive workforce development programs is the key to strengthening innovation and workforce development. So, in September we announced an additional $1.2 million investment for our Growth and Opportunity (GO) Virginia program to supplement our previous allotments of $10.2 and $5.4 million. These investments will expand talent pipelines in key industries, strengthen entrepreneurial ecosystems, and develop business-ready sites in Virginia.
BF: What is a key issue facing the state in terms of business development going forward? What else would you like business leaders and site selectors to know about Virginia?
Gov. Youngkin: The relocation of industry giants like Boeing and Raytheon to Virginia is a testament to the wealth of talent, human capital, and opportunity in our state. Our easy access and proximity to metropolitan hubs via our world-class highway transit system offers an incredible opportunity for collaboration across state borders, and our nationally ranked Port offers business collaboration globally. With some of the best higher education institutions planted locally as well, Virginia offers an incredible opportunity for employers to establish a highly qualified workforce right here in the Commonwealth.