The current labor pool has respectable middle skills training, but it is also an aging workforce.
Attracting, and keeping, young professionals and skilled labor continues to be challenging.
Open positions are difficult to fill due to higher wages in Richmond, Raleigh/Durham and
Lynchburg. Unemployment is lower than it’s been since 2008 and the overall labor supply has
increased indicating an availability of workers that were previously not seeking employment,
but developing a skilled workforce is a continuing effort.
The public school system has many dedicated professionals, but there are significant concerns
regarding graduation rates, achievement scores, emphasizing workforce education as equal to
a four year degree, and improving the aging infrastructure (i.e., investment in new school
facilities). There is a general perception within the business community of not having a strong
public education system, and there are limited private school options in the region. This hinders
both the recruitment and retention of significant business sectors.
In addition to the continuing challenge of workforce development, traditional infrastructure
expansions are needed including water, sewer, natural gas, and rail connections. Diversifying
the economy will be contingent on continuing to expand and maintain this infrastructure strategically and economically.
Other challenges include:
Strengthening Central Business Districts
Out-Migration of Youth – “Brain Drain”
High Quality Daycare for Working Families
Quality of Public Education Facilities
Educational Attainment at all Levels
Availability of Skilled and Semi-Skilled Jobs
Adequate Freight Rail Capacity and Infrastructure to the Port of Virginia
Affordable “Last Mile” Broadband
Continued Reliance on Traditional Industry Sectors