RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Speaking to business leaders on Friday, Dec. 2, Gov. Glenn Youngkin said Virginia needs to cut taxes, overhaul its workforce development strategy and increase investments in project-ready sites to compete with other states. 

“We have to do so much more. We are behind. We are not closing the gap and those most competitive states continue to pull away,” Youngkin said at the 2022 Virginia Economic Summit & Forum on International Trade. “We are done playing small ball. We’re going to play to win.”

Youngkin said, since 2016, a lack of project-ready sites has cost the state more than 55,000 jobs and $124 billion in capital investment — numbers he described as “startling.”

To fix that, Youngkin announced plans to ask the General Assembly for an additional $350 million investment “to secure Virginia’s position as having the best sites in the nation.” Youngkin said the budget he signed last June included $150 million for preparing business-ready sites but “it’s not enough.”

 “I want ‘Made in America’ to mean ‘Made in Virginia,'” Youngkin said.

At the same event last year, an economic roadmap entitled “Blueprint Virginia 2030” identified workforce development as the business community’s top priority across every region as many struggle to fill jobs. In a survey of stakeholders, nearly a quarter of respondents disagreed that Virginia is doing a good job preparing the workforce that businesses need.

In a panel discussion on Friday, Virginia’s Secretary of Labor Bryan Slater called the state’s existing approach “fragmented” and “inefficient.”

Youngkin agrees. He reiterated plans to restructure the state’s workforce development efforts by putting them “all under one roof” in new government agency. He also committed to holding these programs accountable by tracking how many Virginians are getting jobs as a result.

“Workforce development is currently spread out over 6 cabinet secretaries, 12 state agencies, 25 workforce programs, with over 1,500 training programs, spending roughly $485 million in federal and state resources. And I can tell you, we do not get an ‘A.’ I believe in A’s'” Youngkin said.

Youngkin said his upcoming budget proposal will also prioritize expanding career pathways for students by launching multiple dual enrollment acceleration programs in partnership community colleges and local schools.

Once again, Youngkin teased plans for additional tax cuts, though he still has not outlined specific proposals. As many fear a recession is looming, critics have warned against making any big promises.

“I do believe that we have a real risk of a recession and we’re going to prepare to make sure that our budget incorporates that risk without compromising the priorities that are most important,” Youngkin said in a brief interview after his remarks.

Youngkin is expected to unveil his full budget proposal to lawmakers in a speech set for Dec. 15.