Virginia Tech Councils’ 2022 Policy Agenda
Innovation and Economic Development
Virginia has made great strides in laying the foundation for long term growth of our technology industry including restructuring our state level programs and creating the Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority. Additionally, significant investments in education and workforce development continue to increase our potential for growth. RVA Tech supports the following efforts to strengthen our efforts to grow and recruit Virginia-based IT businesses:
• Strengthen funding for the Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority to promote entrepreneurship, capital support for early-stage high-growth companies, and commercialization of Virginia higher education research.
• Provide funding for the Regional Innovation Fund (RIF) to help businesses grow and thrive by building critical ecosystems in all regions of the commonwealth, and provide support in areas where other programs are unable to help. The RIF was initially created through the VIPA legislation and was partially-funded in prior sessions, but it has not yet been capitalized.
• Expand and diversify key technology sectors including Unmanned Systems, Cybersecurity, Smart Communities, Extended/Virtual/Augmented Reality, Biomedical, Clean Energy Technologies, and Electric Vehicles. The Commonwealth is home to several key existing and emerging technologies and our agencies and resources should be utilized to help these sectors expand and diversify.
• Improve Virginia’s competitive position as a global leader in the data center market by modernizing the existing data center investment incentives. As our communities rely more heavily on work from home and virtual education, data centers make it all possible.
• Support efforts to incentivize venture capital investors to locate in Virginia and to invest in Virginia businesses.
• Re-authorize local governments to create Technology and Innovation districts within their locality to incentivize startups and growing businesses to locate in a particular area and support the growth of their own entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Education & Workforce Development
In order for Virginia’s businesses to grow and thrive, they need well-trained and highly skilled employees. In the technology industry, Virginia continues to experience a shortage of trained workers. Technology businesses want to locate in areas with an abundant workforce, and technologists want to locate where there are numerous job opportunities in their field. We support the following efforts to increase our workforce:
• Strengthen computer science education in K-12 schools across the Commonwealth to ensure that all students have access, regardless of where they live. This should include ensuring training and logistical support to all school divisions in compliance with the Virginia K-12 computer science Standards of Learning.
• Computer science education in K-12 should be aligned with higher education, apprenticeships/internships, and workforce certification opportunities.
• If new charter schools are created, dedicate a portion to technology-based specialties to support education in computer science, cybersecurity, and other high demand fields.
• Maintain opportunities for low-income students to pursue community college degrees at no cost in high demand fields such as computer science and information technology.
• Strengthen apprenticeship programs, work experience internships, and other innovative approaches to education where students can earn income while learning. Dedicate resources to a comprehensive system or clearinghouse for inventorying intern/apprentice/extern and other work-based learning opportunities, and for connecting schools, teachers and students to these opportunities.
• Build on recent progress at Virginia’s four-year institutions to increase the number of computer science and information technology degrees produced annually, and work with the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia to empower higher education to keep up with the evolving workforce needs in technology.
• Fully fund the Virginia Talent Accelerator Program at VEDP which will allow the agency to train approximately 5,000 employees per year for new jobs being created locally. The program has helped attract numerous new technology companies to Virginia in recent years.
• Develop foundational education standards for high-growth technology fields, with an emphasis on computer science, engineering, cyber security, robotics, data science and related degree fields, including STEM-pathways degrees that can be integrated into all subjects K-12. It should be noted that high-growth technology fields are defined as technology fields at the cutting edge or disruptive to legacy technology fields of study.
• Align high school high-growth technology field curriculum to that of university taught computer science, engineering, security, robotics, and data science degrees to better prepare students for success in higher education and to have a positive impact in the Virginia workforce.
• Grow the availability of “no or low-cost” high quality in-service teacher training in high-growth technology subjects and incentivize teachers to receive the training. Training should be developed in coordination with representation from state agencies, K-12, community colleges and universities.
• Create visibility for career pathways in high-growth technology fields across the Commonwealth with the goal of increasing career ready talent and the pipeline for all career types in high-growth technology fields.
• Overlay economic development and technology districts with projected educational districts to create powerful growth districts in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The model should be repeatable for tech expansion within the Commonwealth. These districts should align with the STEM Hub network which is already a part of the state’s adopted STEM Plan
• Define what qualifies as a STEM school and/or a high-growth technology field school so that parents and students have assurance that education at these schools aligns with a rubricked and uniform standard.
Universal access to affordable broadband is essential to every Virginian in order to compete in today’s global economy, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made high speed internet even more critical. We support the following for increasing access to high speed internet:
• Preserve recently allocated state and federal funds to broadband deployment.
• Ensure those resources are used efficiently and effectively to reach as many unserved Virginians as possible in sustainable models.
• Reduce unnecessary red tape and barriers that make deployment more difficult.
• Support digital equity programs which compliment the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program and aim to achieve affordable broadband options for low income households.
Information Technology Procurement
The Commonwealth is home to a vibrant industry of technology companies employing thousands of Virginians. Many of these technology companies offer high-value, innovative solutions increasing access to and improving the efficiency of our state government. We support:
• Policies to ensure that the Commonwealth’s procurement process is open, transparent and promote a culture of creativity and competition.
• Modernizing agency technologies to improve on the delivery of government services to our citizens.
• Streamline IT procurement processes to better meet the needs of the citizens and the agencies of the Commonwealth.
• Keeping burdensome regulations to a minimum, especially as additional costs ultimately get passed back to the Commonwealth in the form of higher priced procurement.
January 1, 2020
Limitation of Liability Reforms in IT Procurement
Over the course of several years, RVATech has worked with stakeholders to reform and improve how VITA and other state agencies handle liability in IT contracting. Legislation passed in 2016 moved liability matters to the negotiation phase of a procurement, and then legislation passed in 2019 finally placed a 2x limitation on liability for the vendor in a Major IT Project with some exceptions.
January 1, 2020
Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority
RVATech supported successful efforts in 2019 and 2020 to create a consolidated entity to bring together various technology and startup based economic development programs and resources. This new entity will align programs previously at the Center for Innovative Technology and other agencies to oversee and support research, development, and commercialization, as well as related investment and seed-stage funding. The Authority will be headquartered in Richmond and play an active role in developing Virginia’s innovation ecosystem in all regions of the Commonwealth. This effort continued progress made in 2017 through legislation that strengthened the Virginia Research Investment Committee and its role in research and commercialization.
January 1, 2019
Protecting Data Center Tax Incentives
Virginia's tax incentives for data centers has put us on the map as one of the top locations in the world for data centers, further growing our local technology sector. While some elected officials have wanted to reduce or eliminate those incentives in recent years, RVATech and other advocates have successfully protected them to benefit our industry. We supported efforts to extend the incentives through 2035 during the 2016 session.
January 1, 2019
Tech Talent Investment Program
In 2019, we supported legislation to create the tech talent investment program that significantly increased the number of computer science graduates from Virginia colleges and universities in all regions of the Commonwealth. The legislation provided the framework for an additional 25,000 degrees by 2039 in computer science, computer engineering, and other closely related fields. This landmark legislation will grow our tech talent pipeline and help Virginia remain competitive for growing our technology industry.
January 1, 2018
Broadband Deployment Funding
Every year, RVATech advocates for increasing access to high speed internet both in urban and rural areas of Virginia. Our modern economy requires it in order for students to learn and businesses to grow. Through the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative, we have successfully advocated for funding to expand broadband access across Virginia, including an additional $70 million in funding for the 2020-2021 biennium.
January 1, 2016
Computer Science Teacher Training and K12 Curriculum
In recent years, RVATech has supported successful legislation and funding to boost K12 teacher training in computer science, to incorporate computer science education into the general curriculum, and to give students more options for meeting advanced degree requirements through computer science education.
January 1, 2015
Lighthouse Labs Seed Funding
RVATech worked with the General Assembly to secure funding in the state budget that helped launch Lighthouse Labs into the premier seed stage accelerator in Virginia.
January 1, 2014
Expansion of Technology Supporting R&D Tax Credits
RVATech supported successful efforts to expand the Research and Development tax credits that help recruit technology jobs to Virginia. These credits have been widely utilized by companies large and small to expand their footprint in Virginia, the majority of which has been in technology related jobs. Legislation was approved in 2014 and again in 2020 to increase their capacity in the Commonwealth.
Note From Policy Specialist Andrew Lamar
The 2022 session of the Virginia General Assembly convened on January 12th. The was the first legislative session for Governor Glenn Youngkin and a new House Republican majority, led by Speaker Todd Gilbert. The Senate is unchanged from last year, and Senate Democrats still hold a 21-19 majority. Roughly 2100 pieces of legislation were introduced in the House and Senate combined. The General Assembly adjourned as scheduled on March 12th, but with some unfinished business. A few dozen bills were carried over to a forthcoming special session, along with the new biennial budget. House and Senate negotiators had not finished their work by the deadline, so they decided to adjourn and come back at a later date, which has now been scheduled to resume on April 4th. In addition to the special session for the budget and remaining bills, the House and Senate are scheduled to reconvene on April 27th to vote on suggested amendments from Governor Youngkin and any vetoes.
This session, representatives from rvatech were involved in supporting a variety of initiatives related to the Policy Agenda as adopted last December. We were successful in passing legislation to support STEM education, increasing funding for work-based learning, investing more in workforce training programs, preserving Virginia’s status as a top state to invest in data centers, increasing funding for the Innovation Partnership Authority’s Regional Innovation Fund, increasing tech-industry input at VITA, allocating an additional $50 million into broadband deployment, and making tremendous new investments in state and local government cybersecurity. The House budget allocates roughly $150 million in cybersecurity upgrades at the state and local levels, and the Senate proposal is very similar. Many of these items will be finalized in the coming weeks, and we will keep you up to date when they are resolved.
Policy Committee Members
Twann Atkins - CHAIR,
Carrie Roth ,
John Barrar ,
Jonathan Bransky ,
Patrick Cushing ,
Thought Logic Consulting
Two Capitals Consulting
Dave Rudolph ,
Bob Stolle ,
Center for Innovative Technology
Cindy Sullivan ,
Mike Whitaker ,
Anthony Fung ,