Virginia Business Higher Education Council Launches Growth4VA Campaign

Economic Growth Agenda Stresses Talent, Innovation, Jobs, and Affordability

RICHMOND – The Virginia Business Higher Education Council (VBHEC) today announced the launch of Growth4VA, a campaign to promote reform and reinvestment in Virginia’s nationally acclaimed higher education system.  The campaign’s purpose:  to help grow the Virginia economy, expand access to education and job opportunities for all Virginians, and regain Virginia’s #1 ranking for business.

“Over the next 100 days, we will be mobilizing a broad-based, bipartisan coalition of business, education, and political leaders and Virginians from all walks of life who share our conviction that higher education is a crucial economic engine for our Commonwealth,” said G. Gilmer Minor III, VBHEC’s chairman and the chairman emeritus of Owens & Minor, Inc.  “Our Virginia higher education system is second to none, and our coalition will work to realize the system’s full potential as a catalyst for stronger economic growth, greater innovation, and affordable educational and job opportunities for all Virginians.”

“The degrees and other industry-recognized credentials conferred by our Virginia colleges, universities, and community colleges open a pathway to opportunity for thousands of Virginians.  The return on investment to students and our state is unparalleled,” said Dennis H. Treacy, a VBHEC board member who is chairman of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, rector of the Virginia Tech board of visitors, and president of the Smithfield Foundation.  “But we also have major challenges in Virginia, including below-average economic growth, slippage in our business rankings, and a loss of high-paying jobs and bright young people to other states.  Reform and reinvestment in our higher education system are keys to making progress on all of those fronts.”

“I applaud the business community for recognizing both the pressing need and the enormous opportunity that having a top-ranked higher education system presents in today’s economy,” said Virginia House of Delegates Speaker-Designate M. Kirkland Cox of Colonial Heights.  “If business, education, and community leaders join their efforts with a serious commitment to reform as well as investment, we can make Virginia a standout state for opportunity, talent, and innovation and ensure that every student in our Commonwealth has affordable access to a marketable degree or credential.”

During the 100-day campaign launched today, the Growth4VA coalition will highlight economic and educational opportunities across the Commonwealth, offering practical policy ideas and creative ways for achieving the coalition’s four strategic goals:

  • Making Virginia the Top State for Talent
  • Becoming recognized as the Home of Innovators and Entrepreneurs
  • Preparing Virginians for Great Jobs and Great Lives
  • Providing Affordable Access for All Virginians

“Our diverse system of research universities, four-year colleges, and community colleges is a uniquely valuable asset for our Commonwealth, and the people of Virginia recognize and appreciate it,” said Paul D. Koonce, a member of the Virginia State University board of visitors, VBHEC board member, and executive vice president of Dominion Energy.  “Most states spend a lot more per student on higher education than Virginia spends and have a lot less to show for it.  Yet, our schools can do even more to drive economic development and job creation in each region of Virginia, and we in the business community plan to be good partners in helping them accomplish that goal.”

Virginia’s secretary of education, Dr. Dietra Trent, joined George Mason University president Angel Cabrera, chair of the public colleges’ Council of Presidents, in endorsing the Growth4VA initiative.   “A major reason for our current educational excellence in Virginia is bipartisan collaboration by our political leaders and a strong partnership between the business and higher education communities,” Trent and Cabrera said in a joint statement.  “By setting bold goals and working together, we have successfully launched major initiatives over the past four years that will benefit our students and our economy, such as increasing the number of Virginians with industry-recognized workforce credentials through the New Virginia Economy Workforce Credential Grant Program, promoting academic research through the Virginia Research Investment Fund, and improving affordability through the largest-ever increase in need-based financial aid.”

Cabrera and Trent announced that all 16 of Virginia’s public colleges and universities and the Virginia Community College System are actively supporting and participating in the Growth4VA campaign.

“It is encouraging to see our higher education institutions working so closely with each other and with the business and professional community,” said George Keith Martin, a VBHEC board member and rector emeritus of the University of Virginia, who is the managing partner of the Richmond Office of McGuireWoods LLP.   “Improved affordability and access, internship opportunities and other work experience for students, research partnerships, technological innovations, business process improvements, and entrepreneurship initiatives are just a few of the innovations that this business and higher education collaboration can produce.”

“We in the business and higher education communities appreciate the strong, bipartisan support from our political leaders,” said VBHEC board member Victoria Harker of McLean, chief financial officer of Tegna, Inc.  “It is especially encouraging that both the Democratic and Republican nominees for governor have expressed strong support for our higher education system and have issued detailed policy plans that align well with Growth4VA’s major strategies.”  Click here to see the Gillespie and Northam proposals.

To learn more about the Growth4VA campaign, including the current economic impact of Virginia’s higher education system and the Growth4VA coalition’s plans for expanding economic growth and opportunity in Virginia, visit the campaign website at


About Growth4VA:  Growth4VA is a campaign of the Virginia Business Higher Education Council, an organization founded by Virginia business leaders on the principle that the prosperity of Virginia and the well-being of its citizens is fundamentally tied to access to a strong system of public colleges and universities.  Growth4VA is a broad-based, bipartisan coalition of Virginians who support reform and reinvestment in our higher education system to help grow the Virginia economy, expand access to education and job opportunities for all Virginians, and regain Virginia’s #1 ranking for business.


Gena McGroarty

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