SSTI Digest

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Geography: Virginia

Virginia’s proposed legislation for innovation gathering steam

While Virginia has worked over the past 30 years to build their innovation economy, this past year it changed up the game. SSTI recently talked with Robby Demeria, Virginia’s deputy secretary of commerce and trade for technology, about the planning underway in Virginia and how the commonwealth is proceeding with a new initiative to grow their economy.

Manufacturing wage growth supporting Appalachian economy

Earnings for Appalachian manufacturing workers grew 3.4 percent from 2012 through 2017 to an average of $63,583. The growth is in the Appalachian Regional Commission’s Industrial Make-up of the Appalachian Region, 2002-2017, which reviews employment and wages by sector across the region. Appalachian workers overall saw earnings increase by 3.7 percent over the five years.

Virginia tech talent initiative fueled by Amazon need

Students and tech employers stand to benefit from a new initiative in Virginia that grew out of the Commonwealth’s proposal to Amazon, which is building its second headquarters in Northern Virginia. Last week, Gov. Ralph Northam announced that Virginia will invest in their tech talent pipeline to produce 31,000 new computer science graduates over 20 years.

Election results could yield new state policies; TX doubles cancer R&D

Democrats made some gains in Virginia’s Legislature, and in Kentucky, the governor’s seat looks to be turning over to a Democrat, but the current Republican is requesting a recanvass in the close race. If those results hold, Democratic challenger and current Attorney General Andy Beshear will take the seat from incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin, ending the state’s Republican trifecta (where one party holds the governorship and both chambers of the legislature). Mississippi’s gubernatorial seat remained in Republican control, while the gubernatorial election in Louisiana takes place on Nov. 16, and the incumbent Democratic governor there is seeking another term. Following Tuesday’s elections, the divided government in Virginia turned into a Democratic trifecta in Virginia, as Republicans lost their hold in both the House and Senate. Those outcomes and results from several state legislative elections, along with the results of several innovation-related initiatives, are highlighted below.

Several states in play this election cycle for innovation initiatives, gubernatorial and legislative elections

As voters head to the polls next week, some will be deciding the fate of innovation and development-related initiatives, while voters in Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi will be voting in gubernatorial elections. The initiatives include a possible additional $3 billion in Texas for cancer research. And in Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia, legislative chambers are holding regular elections. Those races and initiatives are covered below.

States with new university-industry partnerships & research capacity activities work to strengthen economies and talent pipelines

Research universities and their partnerships with industry, including an institution’s research capacity, are important elements to building a state’s economy as well as the national economy and talent pipeline and workforce.

5G initiatives begin exploring future of the emerging technology

A new innovation hub slated to open in January in Washington promises to connect 5G startups with investors and technology labs, while also creating a pipeline of jobs for students interested in the emerging sector. A separate effort in Virginia will become a testbed for 5G wireless security that is expected to accelerate cyber research and include 39 universities and four federal partners. Last year, the president directed the secretary of commerce to lead the creation of a long-term spectrum plan and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has since outlined development priorities for American leadership in the emerging technology.  But with no 5G network up and running yet, one may begin to wonder if all the attention is hype, or rooted in reality of a truly disruptive technology that will largely advance society. A recent briefing paper from the Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy seeks to answer who is likely to benefit from this promised vastly faster connectivity, and how that value will be captured.

States take the lead on climate change

When Gov. Janet Mills addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 23, it was the first time a sitting governor of Maine has been asked to address the body. She had been invited as part of her participation in the UN Climate Action Summit 2019, and has made tackling climate change and embracing renewable energy key priorities of her administration. She is not the only governor stepping into the role where the federal government has backed out.

Free tuition offerings continue to evolve in states across the US

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham became the latest governor to propose a plan for free tuition, with what has been called the “one of the most ambitious attempts to make higher education more accessible.” If approved, the plan would allow in-state students to attend any of the 29 state public colleges or universities, regardless of income. It is designed as a “last-dollar” program.

Tech Talkin’ Govs 2019, part 2: Broadband, education, climate change fixes on governors’ radars

Reviewing another slate of governors’ state of the state and inaugural addresses reveals some recurring themes. With a focus on maintaining gains made since the Great Recession and increasing budgets, many governors are holding off on major new initiatives, but are proposing means to increase broadband access, diversify their economies, build renewable energy efforts, and increase their rainy day funds in case of an economic downturn. SSTI presents part 2 of our Tech Talkin’ Govs series, with coverage of governors in Colorado, Connecticut, Oregon, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Pilot program matches researchers with economic and community development issues

Vibrant Virginia (VV), a new program from Virginia Tech’s Office of Economic Development, is offering seed grants as a way to encourage faculty and graduate students to explore persistent public policy challenges spanning the state’s urban, suburban, and rural communities.

States’ fiscal picture improves with growing economy

The ability of states to deliver the services promised to its residents relies on their fiscal soundness. With most states beginning their fiscal year in July, SSTI has reviewed the current fiscal standing for each state and here presents a snapshot of our findings.

Most states ended their fiscal year with a surplus and continue to recover from the Great Recession, with a growing economy and job gains. However, they face continuing demands on their budgets, with expanded Medicaid payments and the growing opioid crisis confronting nearly every state. Such decisions affect the state’s ability to fund innovation efforts, from the amount of support available for higher education and STEM programs, to funding for entrepreneurship, and forging public private partnerships to strengthen innovation programming that the private sector cannot fully support.

Our analysis found that some states that rely on the energy sector to fund their spending priorities continue to struggle, while others are already factoring in anticipated revenues as a result of new Supreme Court rulings involving gaming and online sales tax collections.

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