RVATECH 2021 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:
• Increase funding for the Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority: The VIPA Regional Investment Fund was established through legislation but not funded during the 2020 session. This program will help businesses grow and thrive by building critical ecosystems in all regions of the commonwealth, and provide support in areas where programs like GO Virginia are unable to help.
• Increase flexibility for GO Virginia and VEDP Grants for businesses implementing remote work: Additional flexibility is needed for businesses seeking existing economic development grants and assistance, but whose capital investment is limited due to significant remote work. Allowing more flexibility in a rapidly changing office environment would increase our ability to grow businesses and create jobs in changing business models across Virginia.
• Expand and Diversify Key Technology Sectors: 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. In recent years, policymakers have worked diligently to support many of these areas including Unmanned Systems (land, sea, air), Cybersecurity, Smart Communities, Extended/Virtual/Augmented Reality, Biomedical, and Renewable Energy Technologies.
• Data Centers: RVATECH supports maintaining Virginia’s competitive position as a global leader in the data center market by protecting the existing data center investment incentives. As our communities rely more heavily on work from home and virtual education, these data centers are what make it all possible.
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. RVA Tech supports the following efforts to increase our workforce:
◦ G3: ‘Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back’: G3 will make tuition-free community college available to low- and middle-income students who pursue jobs in high-demand fields such as information technology. It will provide financial support to cover tuition, fees, and books for eligible students at the Commonwealth’s two-year public institutions, as well as wraparound assistance for students at the lowest income levels.
◦ Fast Forward Credentials & Certification Program: FastForward is a short-term workforce training program through VCCS to train Virginians for industry credentials and certifications for the most in-demand jobs across the Commonwealth.
• VEDP Talent Accelerator Program & Virginia Jobs Investment Program: Additional funding for two worker training programs at VEDP was un-allotted during the 2020 session. Over the last five fiscal years, VJIP has assisted nearly 75 companies in the technology industry, creating over 13,000 jobs and almost $300 million in capital investment. The Virginia Talent Accelerator Program, launched in 2019, accelerates new facility start-ups through the direct delivery of recruitment and training services that are fully customized to a company’s unique products, processes, equipment, standards, and culture.
• State Review of Implementation of Computer Science Education: A comprehensive review of the ongoing implementation of mandatory computer science standards as well as alignment of course pathways, including implementation best practices and opportunities for enhanced collaboration with stakeholders.
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. RVA Tech supports ongoing efforts to fund broadband deployment in all corners of the Commonwealth and reduce red tape and barriers that make deployment more difficult.
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. RVA Tech supports:
• Policies to ensure that the Commonwealth’s procurement process is open, transparent and promote a culture of creativity and competition.
• In these uncertain times, use available resources to fund much needed one-time expenses including procuring upgrades to several long-deferred information technology systems and modernizing public agencies to better communicate and adapt to a rapidly changing work environment.
• Keeping burdensome taxes and regulations to a minimum, especially as additional costs ultimately get passed back to the Commonwealth in the form of higher priced procurement.
2020 Policy Events
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 General Assembly as a whole considered nearly 4,000 bills and resolutions during the traditional 60-day session, which was extended by five days to complete work on the new biennial budget. In all the governor approved 1289 pieces of legislation and vetoed just four. By the time the legislature reconvened to act on gubernatorial amendment and vetoes the pandemic had taken hold and unprecedented measures were put in place for the House to meet on the capitol lawn and the Senate to convene in a more spacious room at the Science Museum of Virginia.
This summer, policy efforts are focused on the impending special session of the General Assembly that is likely to take place in August. The purpose of the session will be to address the state budget and the anticipated revenue shortfall resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the governor's executive orders. There are a number of important technology-related funding items in the budget including the new Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority and significant new investments in broadband deployment, and we will be closely monitoring those and other matters for the special session.
Policy Committee Members
Twann Atkins - CHAIR,
Carrie Roth ,
John Barrar ,
Jonathan Bransky ,
Patrick Cushing ,
Thought Logic Consulting
Kevin Hughes ,
Two Capitals Consulting
Dave Rudolph ,
Bob Stolle ,
Center for Innovative Technology
Cindy Sullivan ,
Mike Whitaker ,