The Virginia Initiative for Growth and Opportunity in each region (GO Virginia) was initiated by Virginia’s senior business leaders to foster private-sector growth and job creation through state incentives for regional collaboration by business, education, and government. Recognizing the harsh effect of deep federal budget cuts on a Virginia economy that is overly dependent on public-sector jobs, they launched the GO Virginia campaign to work for regional cooperation on private-sector growth, job creation, and career readiness.
GO Virginia’s mission is based on three main points:
- Virginia urgently needs strong private-sector growth.
- Growth in Virginia’s diverse regions requires collaboration
- State government must be a catalyst and partner.
More information can be found on the GO Virginia website.
In 2016, the Virginia Growth and Opportunity Board certified nine distinct regions across the Commonwealth.
These regions consist of multiple local jurisdictions that are geographically similar and also share similar economic development and workforce needs. The Regional Councils were organically developed – drawing from business leaders, economic development professionals, educators, and local government officials in each region.
Region Five encompasses the counties of Accomack, Franklin, Isle of Wright, James City, Northampton, Southampton and York; and the cities of Chesapeake, Newport News, Norfolk, Hampton, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach and Williamsburg. The Region Five Council is led by Thomas Frantz as Chair and Anne Conner as Vice Chair. Reinvent Hampton Roads is a 501(c)(3) and serves as Region 5’s support organization. Reinvent is led by president and CEO, Jim Spore and Executive Vice President Donna Morris.
Reinvent Hampton Roads contracted with Old Dominion University, George Mason University and the Natelson Dale Group to prepare the Growth & Diversification Plan.
Some of the initiatives identified in the plan to improve the economic performance of the Hampton Roads region include the following as they relate to GO VA's mission of creating higher paying jobs and diversifying the Commonwealth's economy in private sector growth:
- Port and Maritime Economic Development Strategy
- Workforce Gap Analysis
- Entrepreneur In Residence Program
- Regional Economic Development Site Inventory
- Acceleration Pathway Project
- Industry Cluster Scale-Up Initiative
In August, Region Five completed their Growth & Diversification Plan with full endorsement of the Council. The following three broad policy goals were developed from the Plan:
- Create a coordinated regional capacity for innovation in the Region's key cluster areas.
- Increase the pace of small and medium-sized jobs creation through both expansion of existing firms and, in particular, the attraction of out-of-state firms in key cluster areas.
- Close all skills, credentialing and degree gaps in the regional clusters' workforce by 2022 through both in-region production and talent importation.
The Plan identified the following key clusters:
- Port Operations, Logistics and Warehousing
- Advanced Manufacturing
- Cybersecurity, Data Analytics and Model Simulation
- Shipbuilding and Ship Repair
- Water Technologies
- Unmanned Systems and Aerospace
GO VA Region 5 Council Members:
- Thomas R. Frantz, Chair
- Anne C. H. Conner, Vice Chair
- Kenneth Alexander
- Shawn Avery
- Roland “Butch” Bailey
- Timothy J. Bentley
- Bruce Bradley
- John R. Broderick
- John T. Dever
- William B. Downey
- Jack L. Ezzell, Jr.
- Michael Gentry
- Maria Herbert
- Jeffrey Holland
- Michael Kuhns
- Eric Miller
- Jerry Miller
- J.D. Myers, II
- John Olson
- McKinley Price
- John F. Reinhart
- Frank Roach
- William D. Sessoms, Jr.
- Jeffrey Smith
- Bryan Stephens
- Bruce Thompson
- Thomas G. Tingle
- Gary Warren
REGION FIVE PROJECTS
Hampton Roads Cyber Collaboration Laboratory (HRCyber Co-Lab) - $642,713
The HRCyber Co-Lab will serve as an anchor for innovation in the cybersecurity, data analytics, autonomous vehicles and virtual technologies markets in Hampton Roads.
Virginia Digital Shipbuilding Workforce Program - $647,540
This project will create a regional and statewide program to train approximately 8,500 future workers – skilled craftsmen, engineers, designers, and IT professionals - to work in the new digital manufacturing environment and will support Hampton Roads’ existing advanced manufacturing and shipbuilding clusters.
757 Seed Fund - $140,000
This project will establish the administrative structure for a new fund to provide seed-stage investments to Virginia’s most compelling innovation-based, high-growth companies. The creation of a new seed fund to complement the work of 757 Angels will help to build a critical mass of quality investable companies necessary to establish an innovation economy in the Hampton Roads region.
Hampton Roads Unmanned Systems Park - $150,000
This project facilitates the initial steps needed to establish the Hampton Roads Regional Unmanned Systems (HRUSF) in York County. The new facility will provide an open area and infrastructure for use by public institutions, private companies and individuals, to develop, test, and demonstrate unmanned systems.