A new alliance of 21 CEOs from Richmond to Baltimore is making its first public pitch to unite a “super-region” that features an interconnected transportation system and attracts young talent that currently is looking elsewhere.
The Greater Washington Partnership, created at the end of last year, issued a vision statement on Thursday that identifies the two priorities as “table-stakes issues” for the expanded region to thrive and better compete with such regional powerhouses as the greater Austin, Dallas, and Miami areas.
Jason Miller, the partnership’s CEO, said the region needs to create a dynamic environment for cutting-edge startup firms, share economic growth with less-affluent residents, and become a destination “that people consistently choose to live, work and raise a family.”
“The data is clear, and today we are falling short,” Miller says in the two-page statement.
While Washington and Baltimore may seem far from Richmond and its suburbs, Dominion Energy Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Farrell II said the state capital region faces the same challenges as its bigger neighbors to the north along the Interstate 95 corridor.
“The Greater Washington Partnership can make an impact on such pressing issues as transportation and talent, if those issues are addressed regionally,” said Farrell, one of 21 corporate CEOs on the partnership’s board of directors.
Virginia also is represented on the board by Richard D. Fairbank, chairman and CEO of Capital One Corp., based in McLean but the biggest private employer in the Richmond area; Sheila Johnson, CEO of Middleburg-based Salamander Hotels & Resorts; and Wesley G. Bush, chairman and CEO of Northrop Grumman Corp., based in Fairfax County.
“We will leverage our CEOs and their organizations’ capabilities, resources and influence in service of the public interest,” Miller says in the vision statement.
Farrell, whose civic commitments are wide-ranging in Virginia and the Richmond area, said the partnership’s goal of improving the regional transportation network is important to Dominion, a giant energy company that employs almost 10,000 people in Virginia and Maryland.
“The more time our employees are stuck in traffic or waiting for mass transit, the less time they have for their families — or, if on the job, less time to perform critical functions to keep the lights on,” he said in a statement on the partnership’s top goal.
Similarly, Farrell said the ability to attract and keep talented workers in the region also is important to his Richmond-based company, which operates Virginia’s largest utility but also a major natural gas network that extends from West Virginia to the Maryland shore of the Chesapeake Bay.
As employees from the baby boom generation retire in the coming years, “we need to be able to recruit talented people who can step in and perform these jobs well.”
Capital One, with more than 10,000 employees in the Richmond region, said talent is critical to the innovative technologies driving economic growth.
“To ensure the future economic success of our region, we need to maintain a relentless focus on building a diverse, cutting-edge and inclusive environment that attracts top tech and digital talent,” Rob Alexander, chief information officer at Capital One, said in a statement.
Alexander called the partnership a “unique civic alliance” that “brings together leading employers and entrepreneurs from across the region to share diverse perspectives, capabilities, and to co-create together in powerful ways to ensure that our region is a magnet for global talent and innovation.”
Miller, in a recent interview, said the vision statement is an important milestone for the partnership as it moves from organizing itself to introducing itself in a region that is home to more than 10 million people.
“This is really about our entering the public discussion,” he said.