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.
To date Region 5 has applied for and received eight GO Virginia Per Capita grants equaling $ 3,360,328. These GO Virginia funds have been leveraged with an additional $ 6,637,928 in local match, bringing the total investment to $ 9,998,256.
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 and is supported by Administrative and Office Assistant, Gia Freeman.
Reinvent Hampton Roads contracted with Old Dominion University, George Mason University and the Natelson Dale Group to prepare the Growth & Diversification Plan.
As required by the Virginia Growth and Opportunity Act, each regional council must review and amend their Economic Growth and Diversification Plan not less than biennially.
In September of 2019, the biennial update of the GO Virginia Region 5 Economic Growth and Diversification Plan was approved by the Region 5 Regional Council and the GO Virginia State Board. The report was prepared by the Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy at Old Dominion University.
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
Region Five's Growth & Diversification Plan is endorsed by the Region 5 Council. The following three broad policy goals were developed from the original plan in 2016 and continues to be a benchmark for the region:
- 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
- Patrick Coady
- Timothy J. Bentley
- Bruce Bradley
- John R. Broderick
- Maria Conston
- William B. Downey
- Jack L. Ezzell, Jr.
- Michael Gentry
- Maria Herbert
- Jeffrey Holland
- Robert S. McKenna
- Jerry Miller
- J.D. Myers, II
- John Olson
- McKinley Price
- John F. Reinhart
- Katherine Rowe
- Robert M. “Bobby” Dyer
- Jefferey Smith
- Bryan Stephens
- Bruce Thompson
- Thomas G. Tingle
- Gary Warren
REGION FIVE PROJECTS
The Virginia Cyber Alliance will serve as an anchor for innovation in the cyber-security, data analytics, autonomous vehicles and virtual technologies markets in Hampton Roads.
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.
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 start-up companies necessary to establish an innovation economy in the Hampton Roads region.
This project is focused on centralizing resources of angel and seed stage capital and work focused on the creation of other entrepreneurial resources.
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.
This project will enable Hampton Roads to meet the Talent and Workforce challenges of the times: diversifying the economy to become less reliant on federal spending, staying competitive in an increasingly globalized economy, taking full advantage of advances in digital technologies that are fundamentally changing all forms of production, maximizing the opportunities that come with an increasingly diverse society and the changing preferences of emerging generations, and attracting and retaining the talent needed for the full range of jobs required for all of these efforts.
The project is organized and led by Shore entrepreneurs who are developing a viable commercial model for entrepreneur ecosystem support in rural regions that have limited financial resources.