UVa-Wise Chancellor Donna P. Henry was one of a handful of Virginia college and university leaders who joined Virginia Governor Ralph Northam in announcing Tuesday that Amazon had selected Virginia for a new headquarters in Northern Virginia.
Northam announced 25,000 high paying jobs over the next 12 years would be coming to Northern Virginia.
“At UVa-Wise we have been working for over a decade to build our technology programs for an opportunity just like this,” Henry said. “Over twenty percent of UVa-Wise students come from Northern Virginia, and I am confident that they are prepared to work for a company like Amazon. With UVa-Wise students who would like to stay in Southwest Virginia, I’m certain that virtual work situations will arise. Our graduates will be well prepared for this work, as well.”
Economic development has been an important issue for Henry since she arrived on campus about six years ago. She has touted cyber security and the College’s software engineering and computer science programs as ways to grow the region’s economy. Henry sees the possibility of even more growth in Southwest Virginia and Northern Virginia because of Amazon’s announcement.
Stephen Moret, head of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, said the college and university leaders joined others from Arlington County, Alexandria, Major Employment and Investment Project Approval Commission and others across Virginia to make it possible.
“Virginia’s biggest employment growth opportunity in the years ahead will be in tech—from artificial intelligence to cloud computing to cybersecurity, and everything in between,” Moret said. “The tech-talent pipeline investments that Governor Northam and the General Assembly are launching will position communities across the Commonwealth for healthier, more diversified economic growth.”
In a news release Tuesday afternoon, Moret said the foundation of the cooperative pitch for Amazon’s headquarters is a statewide investment program to double the annual number of graduates with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science and closely-related fields, ultimately yielding 25,000 to 35,000 additional graduates over the next two decades in excess of current levels. The Commonwealth of Virginia, Arlington County, and the City of Alexandria have also committed funding for transportation investments to support mobility in the region. In addition to investments that will broadly benefit Virginians, the Commonwealth offered post-performance incentives that will be paid only after the company has produced new, qualifying jobs, resulting in net positive state revenue on day one.