Virginia Tech plays key role in state's top business ranking
CNBC chose Virginia as the top state to do business in 2019, highlighting Virginia Tech's role in workforce development.
July 14, 2019
Virginia Tech’s commitment to building the commonwealth’s skilled workforce, highlighted by its ambitious plans for a new Northern Virginia campus, fueled Virginia’s recent selection as CNBC’s Top State to Do Business in 2019.
In its ranking, CNBC cited Virginia’s highly educated workforce, strong economic growth, stable business climate, education, access to capital, and technology and innovation. Virginia Tech contributed to many of those categories, which also resulted in Amazon’s decision to build part of its HQ2 project in Northern Virginia.
Virginia Tech plans to build a 1-million-square-foot Innovation Campus as part of a mixed-used development in the National Landing area of Alexandria. The campus is part of a tech-talent pipeline package created by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and approved by the General Assembly to attract Amazon to build HQ2 in Northern Virginia. It will offer graduate programs, feature academic classrooms, incubator space for new startups and research and development, and offices for industry collaboration.
“Virginia Tech is playing an important role in building a tech-talent pipeline for the commonwealth’s economic future,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. “Advancing Virginia’s economy in a rapidly changing world is a core part of our land-grant mission, and the Innovation Campus is an important part of that work. We’re proud to see Virginia’s efforts recognized by CNBC.”
CNBC’s annual ranking, along with a similar ranking by Forbes, are the two most influential in the business community, because they indicate for companies looking to expand the ease of doing business in a certain state, said Robert Sumichrast, dean of the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech.
In a story announcing the 2019 rankings, Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president for public policy and a member of its site selection team, pointed to Virginia Tech’s planned Innovation Campus and focus on workforce training as a driving factor in the company’s decision to locate in Northern Virginia.
“Many locations had current tech talent,” Huseman told CNBC. “What was unique about Virginia was its commitment to developing that long-term talent pipeline and closing the skills gap.”
That goal was where the interests of Amazon, Virginia, and Virginia Tech coincided.
“The land grant mission of Virginia Tech is the reason that we are training people to be helpful in the workforce,” Sumichrast said. “We have that practical focus to lot of our education. That’s good for our economy.”
Virginia Tech has other growth opportunities on the horizon that will contribute in a big way to the state’s talent pipeline. Sumichrast pointed to the Global Business and Analytics Complex, which will open in 2024 in Blacksburg, and will combine data scientists and students from multiple disciplines in one place for research and problem solving.
“It will provide a talent pipeline like no other,” Sumichrast said. “The kinds of students who are educated in GBAC and join the workforce are going to have the kinds of skills that companies are looking for now and in the future.”
CNBC determines its rankings using a system based on 64 metrics in 10 categories of competitiveness. Virginia was named top state for business by CNBC in 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2019. It’s tied with Texas for the most wins in the CNBC rankings.
Written by Mason Adams and Jenny Kincaid Boone