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Va. aggressively recruiting businesses
President and CEO of Virginia Economic Development Partnership addresses local business leaders

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Date published: 2/24/2012

By Bill Freehling

The economy is improving, but competition between states remains fierce to attract companies looking to move or expand.

Those were among the messages Virginia Economic Development Partnership President and CEO Martin Briley delivered to Fredericksburg-area government and business leaders Thursday.

Briley, who took over leadership of the VEDP four months ago, said his staff has been aggressively recruiting businesses to Vir- ginia. He said the state's pipeline of prospective projects is "pretty robust," but he wants it to grow. He said incentives are required to close deals with prospects, but the state must get a return on those investments.

He also said Virginia must "play defense" to limit the economic damage from looming federal budget cuts. He knows the state will take a hit, but he wants to ensure it's limited. One way to do that is convincing corporations why they should locate in Virginia rather than Washington, Maryland or other competitors.

Briley made his remarks to about 70 people gathered for lunch at Bonefish Grill in Fredericksburg. He spent the morning meeting individually with local government leaders at the Eagle Village office of the Fredericksburg Regional Alliance, which organized Briley's visit and the lunch.

Briley said the Fredericksburg area appears to be on the right track and is "doing everything right."

"You have great leadership and a terrific product," Briley told the gathered crowd at the luncheon. "You've come through the downturn quite well."

He said higher education will be a crucial part of the state's recruitment efforts, as companies are usually looking for access to workforce training. The VEDP is also marketing the state to international companies.

Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405
Email: bfreehling@freelancestar.com