The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP), once renowned as one of the top state economic development organizations in the country, suffers from “systemic deficiencies,” concludes a blistering report by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC).
Some of the conclusions:
VEDP is not an efficiently or effectively managed organization.
The partnership “lacks many of the fundamental components or organizational management needed to operate efficiently and effectively and to coordinate well with external entities. Key elements missing from VEDP’s operations include a deliberate strategy to meet statutory responsibilities, adequate operational guidance for staff to carry out their job responsibilities, effective accountability mechanisms, useful performance measures, and effective coordination with external partners. Without these elements, VEDP risks wasting limited resources…”
VEDP’s approach to marketing Virginia compromises its effectiveness.
The partnership “has not taken basic steps to ensure it is effectively and efficiently marketing Virginia to new and existing businesses. … VEDP’s marketing services have been largely reactive and generated substantially fewer location and expansions decisions (“announcements”) than suggested by the agency’s performance measures.”
VEDP’s unstructured approach to administering incentive grants leaves the state vulnerable to fraud and poor use of limited resources.
The partnership’s “approach to administering incentive grants has exposed the state to avoidable risk of fraud and financial loss, and has increased the potential that state funding is not efficiently allocated. VEDP administers 10 incentives grant programs and awarded $384 million to companies over the past decade. During this time period, many of the projects supported through VEDP-administered incentive programs did not meet their performance requirements.”
The one ray of hope: Virginia’s export-promotion program: “VEDP’s export promotion (international trade) programs have demonstrated success in assisting Virginia companies with selling their products in international markets.”
Bacon’s bottom line: There’s an even bigger question to ponder. Of all the places that Virginia invests in economic development — corporate recruitment, incentives, tourism, agricultural marketing, the Center for Innovative Technology, university research — is corporate recruitment/incentives the best allocation of funds? Clearly, it was at one time in Virginia’s history. I’m not saying it isn’t now. But like every other expenditure of state dollars, we should seek the greatest return on investment of public dollars, which means periodically reviewing all state-funded initiatives. This might be a good time to step back and look at the big picture.There are currently no comments highlighted.