VA Gov Set to Sign Package of ED Bills Including New Research Fund

April 28, 2016

On April 20, the Virginia General Assembly sent three economic development-focused bills (HB 1343, HB 846, and HB 834) to Gov. Terry McAuliffe. The bills include the creation of a new research fund and the creation of a network of regional economic development councils. Although the bills have yet to be signed, Gov. McAuliffe has publicly supported each of them. This package of economic development initiatives was originally proposed in the governor’s economic development strategy as well as his recent budget proposal. However, it took some compromise between the governor’s original proposals and the General Assembly to reach a final package.

The General Assembly passed HB 1343 to establish the Virginia Research Investment Committee to administer grants and loans from the Virginia Research Investment Fund – that also is created by the bill. The intent of the fund is to promote research, development, and commercialization in the Commonwealth. The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) is tasked with developing the guidelines related to administration and award of grants from the fund. Once applications are submitted to SCHEV, the committee will make a final decision about the awards. Its board will be comprised of the Director of SCHEV, the Secretary of Finance, the staff directors of the House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees, and three appointed citizen members.

Each year, the fund will be subject to the appropriation by the Virginia General Assembly and will make up to $4 million per year in grants and loans to Virginia’s public institutions of higher education or collaborations between public institutions of higher education and private entities. Criteria for funding will consider the potential for the funding to result in:

  • The commercialization of research;
  • The formation or spin-off of viable bioscience, biotechnology, cybersecurity, genomics, or similar companies;
  • The build-out of scientific areas of expertise in science and technology;
  • Applied research and development;
  • The development of modern facilities or infrastructure for research and development; and,
  • Collaboration among the public institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth.

Each award made by the fund requires at least a 1:1 match from another source.

Through HB 846, the state will create the Virginia Collaborative Economic Development Performance Grant Fund to promote collaborative regional economic development and workforce development opportunities. Each year, the fund can commit up to $20 million in grants – subject to the appropriation by the Virginia General Assembly. Overseen by the GO Virginia Board, the fund will make grants to support collaboration between two or more localities that collaborate and adopt a collaborative economic development plan. The collaboration must result in the location or expansion of a company in the commonwealth that creates at least 200 new jobs that are at least equal to the state’s average wage. There also must be a capital investment of $25 million. The board can waive these requirements for a specific project, but the project still must create at least 25 new jobs and at least $1 million in capital investment.

To administer the Virginia Collaborative Economic Development Performance Grant Fund, the General Assembly passed the Virginia Growth and Opportunity Act (HB 834) to establish the Virginia Growth and Opportunity Board (GO Virginia Board) to promote collaborative regional economic and workforce development opportunities and activities. The 24-member board will consist of seven legislative members, 14 non-legislative members, and ex officio members of the governor’s cabinet. The legislation includes language that would require that all regions of the state are represented on the GO Virginia Board.

In addition to overseeing the fund, the GO Virginia Board would create a network of regional economic development councils to facilitate these multi-jurisdiction collaboration and lead regional economic development efforts across the state. These councils would help develop regional economic development plans and provide support to organizations competing for state funding. Other activities performed by the board will include:

  • Develop and implement guidelines and procedures for grant applications;
  • Receive and assess applications for funding awards;
  • Advise the governor on the allocation and prioritization of other funds;
  • Advise the governor on the provision of technical assistance regarding the organization and operation of regional councils; and,
  • Collect and disseminate information concerning local, state, national, and other best practices related to collaborative regional economic and workforce development initiatives.

 

 

Virginiacommercialization, regions