A recent poll in Virginia yielded some surprising findings about economic development priorities among residents.

When asked to choose among three economic development priorities:

  • 47% of respondents selected expanding workforce training and education
  • 25% (!) preferred financial incentives to recruit new businesses, and
  • 23% chose retaining and expanding existing businesses

More than half (58%) of the poll’s respondents indicated they are willing to pay more in taxes for workforce training and development programs, but with notable variations along party and regional lines.

On the other hand, most were not familiar with job and career opportunities in their community, with the rates especially high among those with less than a high school diploma. Most respondents were not familiar with the state’s One-Stop Career Centers.

Less than half (47%) feel Virginia does a “good” or “excellent” job attracting new businesses to the state. 12% believe Virginia does a “poor” job. Perception varies significantly by region, education and income. For example,

  • 59% of those earning $100,000 or more rate efforts “good” or “excellent” compared to 41% of those earning less than $50,000.
  • 56% of respondents in Northern Virginia rate efforts “good” or “excellent” compared to 36% in the West portion of the state.
  • 20% of respondents with a high school degree or less and 21% of respondents in the West think the state does a poor job of attracting new businesses.

The 2017 Public Policy Poll: Economic Development and Workforce Training was conducted by the Center for Public Policy at the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University. The poll was conducted in English via telephone with a representative sample of 1,000 adults living in Virginia. You can download the full report at: http://www.wilder.vcu.edu/media/wilder/documents/2017_ECONPoll_Overview_Methodology.pdf