Nuts and bolts, and looking beyond

Published 9:18 am Thursday, February 25, 2016

Last week, I wrote of my efforts to make major shifts in workforce training in Virginia. That continues to proceed well. This week, I was able to secure the funding needed to train at least 8,000 for good-paying jobs that currently are in high-demand fields. Their success will set the course for many more highly skilled opportunities in the future.

This week, I want to report to you about other efforts on which I have been focused this year. First is what I am calling the Virginia Research Alliance. It is an effort to better focus our research universities on attracting research that brings new ideas to Virginia.

That commercialization requirement will lead to manufacturing jobs in the state. Too often in the past, the focus of research has never produced anything but more research.

I wish that I could claim ownership of this idea, but it is not mine. It springs from my visit to Georgia and seeing the success they have had over the last two decades while Virginia lagged behind. For every dollar the state has invested, private and federal research investment has been over four dollars; creating over 150 new companies employing over 6,000 good paying jobs.

The Georgia model established an imminent scholarship program in which each of their research university colleges are involved. My goal is to create the same energy between our business community and our research universities.

The Georgia Alliance encourages and incentivizes the universities to recruit the best minds in the world to come there to not only do their research, but they must be committed to bring their work to the market place creating products that the world needs and can be manufactured in Georgia.

The second big effort is the Growth Opportunity proposal that the business community has proposed and in which they have committed to invest time, money and talent.

I am carrying that part of that initiative that offers a reward to those communities that work together on economic efforts.

If two or more counties and or cities agree to work together, those localities would be eligible to receive up to half the payroll taxes collected by the state as an incentive on other proposed projects. This proposal rewards communities that work together regionally, using tax money that normally would be sent to Richmond.

Frank Ruff, a Republican, represents Lunenburg County in the Virginia State Senate. His email address is