The Virginia Institute for Economic Development (VIED) provides hands-on training in the economic development process and outlines how this process is used to benefit Virginia’s cities, counties, and towns in furthering economic growth. The course is jointly sponsored by the Virginia Department of Business Assistance, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Virginia Economic Developers Association and Virginia Tech’s Office of Economic Development.
The three and a half day course included lectures by experienced economic development professionals and personnel from various agencies from across the state. The course is designed to help community leaders learn about each agency’s specific programs and services. Key elements of the VIED are for local volunteer and elected leaders to gain exposure to other local and regional economic development programs, to expand their network of key economic development leaders, and to apply their knowledge of programs that work to enhance their community’s economic development efforts. All aspects of economic development were highlighted, including the analysis of current economic trends, planning, product development, workforce development, finance and marketing along with an overview of various industry clusters and the roles of different state agencies. According to VIED Director Tom Harned, IDA Board Members were “fully engaged and very interested in the content of the presentations and they asked very insightful questions.” Each Board Member received a certificate for completion of the course. IDA Chair Garland B. Ricketts said that the course was very helpful to him as a volunteer. “We were exposed to many different approaches to local economic development”, he said. “The overriding theme, however, is that it takes a committed team of volunteers, elected officials, professional staff and state, regional and local allies to bring about success”, he added.