January 5, 2011

Dear Delegate:

On behalf of the Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC) and our approximately 1,000 member companies, we would like to extend our warm wishes for a productive and successful legislative session.

In 2009, NVTC adopted NVTC's Four Year Vision for Virginia's Technology Future. This Four Year Vision is our technology community's long-term blueprint for policies and investments that will ensure that Virginia remains a top state for business and a global technology center, as this is central to our state's economic recovery, growth and stability. This document calls for focus in three critically-important areas - the economy, education and research, and transportation - all of which we believe are central to enhancing Virginia's technology industry and the Commonwealth's international competitiveness.

During the past several months, technology executives from NVTC member companies had the opportunity to work with legislators and public sector leaders, business leaders, academic leaders and distinguished experts from across the state in developing ideas and recommendations through the Governor's Commission on Government Reform and Efficiency, the Governor's Commission on Economic Development and Job Creation, and the Governor's Commission on Higher Education Reform, Innovation and Investment. Many of the recommendations from these three commissions track and advance NVTC's Four Year Vision for Virginia's Technology Future, and we look forward to supporting them this year and in the coming years.

As you and your colleagues convene for the 2011 Legislative Session, we know you will be making many difficult decisions in adopting a budget and policies that meet Virginia's needs, while addressing the Commonwealth's current revenue challenges. It is critical that 2011 budget and policy actions further advance the gains Virginia has made in building a globally branded technology business climate. Virginia's technology future demands that long-term investment not be sacrificed to achieve short-term savings. Virginia's policies and budget priorities must support technology and innovation, competitive economic development incentives, entrepreneurship, job creation and new company formation, education, research and transportation.

We also encourage you to consider the long-term cost savings and increased efficiencies Virginia can achieve by leveraging technology to the greatest extent possible, especially in fraud and abuse management, utilization of electronic medical records, deployment of intelligent transportation systems, greater use of shared services and strong encouragement of public-private partnerships.

During the 2011 Legislative Session, we urge you to address Virginia's critical transportation funding needs and also to support the following seven priorities:

  • Enact a strong R&D tax credit to promote innovation and job creation across Virginia and to boost industry-sponsored research and collaboration with Virginia's universities. Thirty-eight states offer an R&D tax credit. Adoption of a state R&D tax credit will enhance Virginia's competitiveness as a preferred location for research.
  • Support the creation of the Virginia Research and Technology Innovation Program (VRTIP). VRTIP will provide $25 million to accelerate entrance of new products and services to the market, incentivize collaboration between institutions of higher education and companies engaged in research in high-growth, emerging industries and provide new resources to attract and retain eminent researchers at Virginia universities.
  • Support the CIT GAP Fund as a public-private partnership to encourage entrepreneurs and innovative technology startup companies to locate and grow within the Commonwealth by investing in seed stage firms and university spinoffs with a high potential for successful commercialization, rapid growth and downstream private equity financing. On average, every dollar invested by the CIT GAP Fund leverages $14 in private sector investment.
  • Boost funding for Virginia's institutions of higher education and ensure that they are given maximum flexibility to deal with the cumulative impact of budget cuts, including the ability to set tuition and fees.
  • Bolster state support for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education at all levels and support Governor McDonnell's proposal to provide an additional $33 million to enhance higher education student enrollment, retention, and graduation with a focus on increasing the number of students majoring in STEM. Northern Virginia priorities include:
    • Providing George Mason University with $3 million to fund faculty startup packages to strengthen STEM education and support increased enrollment demand.
    • Enhancing economic incentives and aggressively promoting options for obtaining a bachelor's degree in STEM and other disciplines by enrolling first in a community college and then completing study at a four-year institution.
    • Allocating planning money to George Mason University for their "Bull Run II" life sciences building at their Prince William Campus to add labs for life sciences instructional and research needs, to serve as a magnet for the biotech industry and to boost graduates in the life sciences fields.
    • Providing capital investment to advance STEM-related higher education facilities to expand capacity.
    • Encourage students to specialize in STEM disciplines in Virginia's community colleges by leveraging a public-private scholarship match program for students enrolled in coursework targeted toward high-demand fields. For every dollar raised privately, the state would provide a dollar-for-dollar match up to $5 million.
  • Ensure the multi-state Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement governing taxation of e-commerce-based transactions provides for a small seller exemption, a single entity for collection and audits and adequate reimbursement for businesses prior to supporting its implementation in Virginia. Also ensure that out-of-state businesses can continue to support Virginia technology businesses and jobs in the Commonwealth by advertising on Virginia-based websites without incurring new - and likely unconstitutional - sales tax collection burdens.
  • Promote greater use of telework in the private sector and within state government.

In closing, the Northern Virginia technology community urges you to consider a long-term strategic view of Virginia's future. Despite the funding challenges we continue to face, we see tremendous opportunity for Virginia to further distinguish itself this year as a top state for business and a global technology center.

NVTC maintains a full-time presence in Richmond during the General Assembly session. If there is anything we can do to help you this session or any feedback we can provide, please feel free to contact NVTC Vice President of Policy Josh Levi, NVTC Public Policy Manager Joe Vidulich or Myles Louria of Hunton Williams.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of NVTC's 2011 legislative priorities. We look forward to working with you this session and we hope we can count on your support.


Brad Antle
Chairman, NVTC Board of Directors
President and CEO, Salient Federal Solutions

Bobbie Kilberg
President and CEO
Northern Virginia Technology Council