The Online Newsletter for the Virginia Economic Developers Association
August 2020
President's Column
Dear VEDA Members,

The old adage “the only constant is change” started my column last month and it is an ongoing and pervasive theme in our world. Instead of using this premise for politics, I want to shift this lens to primary activities in our profession. If real estate transactions are at the heart of economic development, we all may need a transplant or at least bypass surgery in the near future. Telecommuting and outsourcing could severely hurt the office market in major urban centers. The “Amazon effect” on retail has gone viral due to the health crisis, and we will probably never go back to a large brick and mortar retail environment. In a state as diverse as Virginia how will these sea changes play out differently in Appomattox versus Alexandria? 

According to a recent article in the Virginian Pilot as many as 66 percent of employees are now working from home, versus 7 percent of workers who had the option of doing that before the pandemic. Global Workplace Analytics predicts that 25-30 percent of all employees will be working from home multiple days of the week by the end of 2021. Will employers decide that perhaps they can do without full time staff entirely and outsource more work? Perhaps some of the office loss could be offset by more co-working space that provides remote workers technology access they can’t afford at home. Will remote workers leave expensive urban environments and opt for rural/suburban areas? This could significantly impact residential real estate markets and possibly help rural areas attract new residents. Clearly broadband becomes an integral part of this equation. Placemaking also becomes a heightened priority if it is needed to attract telecommuters to your community. With the demise of traditional retail how are we going to market vacant power centers and shopping malls? Typical zoning ordinances will generally make it very difficult to repurpose these buildings for light industrial or technology users. Perhaps we should we be providing incentives for retail property owners to make investments in their facilities to accommodate alternative employment centers.

There are so many questions right now regarding how we will most effectively grow our state and local economies moving forward. The upcoming VEDA Fall Conference will feature a professional development option on Wednesday focused on how to improve your virtual site tours. This a perfect example how VEDA can help all of us manage the changing economic development landscape. It’s going to continue to be a wild ride and a resource like VEDA in invaluable.   

Jim Noel
VEDA President
York County Economic Development
VEDA Professional Development Workshop to cover Virtual Site Visits
Mark your calendar and plan to "attend" the VEDA Virtual Professional Development Workshop on Wednesday, September 16th from 9-11 am. Speakers from Global Location Strategies (GLS) will share information and tips on conducting successful virtual site visits. Following their presentation, two VEDA members will present on their communities and be critiqued by the experts. Registration information will be coming out this week, so plan on attending.

Global Location Strategies
Global Location Strategies (GLS) is operated out of Greenville, South Carolina and led by Founding Principal, Didi Caldwell, who has more than 20 years of experience. GLS provides consulting services to companies and organizations all over the world. GLS is comprised of a team of professional site selectors who have evaluated the feasibility of site options from around the world for their capability to serve large manufacturing and industrial capital investment projects. For economic development organizations, GLS customizes their services and helps to characterize site product so that communities are ready to attract capital investment.
Virtual Site Visit
A Virtual Site Visit is a simulation that coaches your economic development team and community partners on effective virtual site visit practices.  The experience prepares communities to pitch their site and community to attract new business and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

VEDA Fall Conference going virtual
The VEDA 2020 Fall Conference is going virtual, September 17-18th. Registration will be open in the next few days and we hope you can join us for lots of great content and useful information.


Thursday, September 17, 2020

1:00 pm - 1:05 pm - Welcome/Opening Remarks

1:05 pm - 2:15 pm
Keynote: Rosemary Coates, Executive Director, Reshoring Institute

2:15 pm – 2:30 pm - Break 

2:30 pm - 3:30 pm
Port Update/Foreign Trade Zones

3:30 pm – 3:45 pm - Break

3:45 pm – 4:30 pm
Panel Discussion - Supply Chain Diversity

4:30 – 5:15 pm
Topical Happy Hours
Friday, September 18, 2020

9:00 am – 9:05 am - Day 2 Opening Remarks

9:05 am – 9:45 am
VEDA Public Policy Update

9:45 am – 9:50 am - Coffee Break

9:50 am - 11:20 am
EDO Best Practices - Moderated by Ron Kitchens, Senior Partner, Southwest Michigan First

11:20 am - 11:30 am - Conference Closing

In memory
Gerald (Jerry) Lee Hughes Jr., passed away peacefully at his home on Ground Hog Mountain, Patrick County, Va., on July 23, 2020. He was 69.

Jerry served on the VEDA Board of Directors and as president in 2003.

He began his career in education and economic development at Concord College and West Virginia Tech. Jerry became the first Director of Longwood University's Small Business Development Center that served more than 15 counties in Southside Virginia. He later became the Director of Continuing Education and Economic Development at Longwood University where he lead all economic development initiatives and won several state awards for his work. Jerry went on to serve two years as the Director of Economic Development for Manassas Park, Va.

In 2002 he was hired by the late Governor Gerald Baliles to be the Director of the Patrick County Education Foundation. In 2012, Jerry became the Town Manager of Independence, Va. He retired in June 2018.

CLICK HERE to read Jerry Hughes' complete obituary.
Members in the news
VEDA Member Elizabeth Povar, Principal, The RiverLink Group has been appointed to the Board of Directors for the Center for Rural Virginia.
Beth Doughty will retire in December as executive director of the Roanoke Regional Partnership after 22 years. She joined the Partnership in 1990 as marketing director and was executive director from 1992-1999. READ MORE