Mr. Economic Development as Biz Person of 2019

Virginia Business magazine has named Stephen Moret, CEO of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, as its 2019 business person of the year. The recognition is richly deserved. In less than three years, Moret has overhauled the badly dysfunctional VEDP, directed the effort to capture Amazon’s HQ2 project, restored Virginia to a top ranked state for business climate, and launched several initiatives that should improve the state’s economic competitiveness even more in the years to come.

The magazine has an excellent profile in its current edition, telling the story of his upbringing in a small Mississippi town, his winning a Louisiana State University scholarship by playing the trumpet, his contributions as a senior member of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s administration, and then his move to Virginia as chief economic developer.

The only insight I would add to the Virginia Business profile would be to note the breadth of Moret’s interests. The VEDP has a narrow scope: recruiting out-of-state corporate investment to Virginia (with a side job of promoting foreign trade). Moret, quite rightly, understands that the key to attracting corporate investment is building and retaining human capital. He also comprehends the role of university-centered innovation ecosystems in driving economic growth. Weaving together the strands of corporate recruitment, workforce development, and higher-ed, he has emerged not only as the leading practitioner of economic development in Virginia but its most visible and articulate theoretician.

— JAB

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5 responses to “Mr. Economic Development as Biz Person of 2019

  1. re: ” … note the breadth of Moret’s interests”

    I agree. Part of our problem has been a “silo” approach to economic development when in reality it’s a “whole body” critter with lots of moving parts.

    A good analogy on a smaller scale is the way that some adjacent localities choose to compete against each other for economic development rather than banding together as a region to offer things bigger than even the sum of the parts.

    Also, economic development is inherently an entrepreneurial endeavor with lots of risk and potential for failure – but you must do the process and take the wins that do come as well as the losses… that are inevitable.

    Congrats!

  2. Yes this is a laudable turnaround from 2016, as Peter Galuszka covered https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/all-opinions-are-local/wp/2016/11/16/virginia-economic-development-partnership-is-subject-of-a-devastating-report/ For far too long, Virginia turns to the same “leaders” for everything–Vince Mastracco is apparently an expert on everything, according to his board appointments–how much does an attorney know about business development? The fresh perspective of Moret was imperative.

    Now, if he can only ramp up the diversity of staff, advisors, Board members, Virginia will look like a place that wants to home global concerns. I see nothing but white folks.

  3. Sounds like he might be from Baton Rouge, which is where we were a few years before Fairfax. He presumably knows the difficulty of losing people resources due to high taxes. TX and FL was were everyone wanted to be instead of La. In my case Va., but only my spouse holds me back from FL.

  4. Sounds like he might be from Baton Rouge, which is where we were a few years before Fairfax. He presumably knows the difficulty of losing people resources due to high taxes. TX and FL was were everyone wanted to be instead of La. In my case Va., but only my spouse holds me back from FL.

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