Ralph Northam's plan for


As governor, Ralph Northam will make Virginia the best state for talent through investing in our workforce and education system.

A Northam administration will build and expand Virginia’s vibrant technology ecosystem to underpin high-growth emerging industries and position Virginia as a global technology leader.

Virginia has a strong technology industry and a vast array of assets spanning from advanced materials to aerospace. In the technology sector, while special emphasis will be placed on emerging and high-growth markets, increased investment in foundational aspects of technology development will have a positive impact across all technology sectors.

In order to retain, grow, and attract new technology companies in Virginia, a Northam administration will:

  • Establish Virginia as the best state for talent through investing in workforce development and education. This will ensure that Virginia companies have access to workers who have industry-relevant skills—at all educational levels;
  • Build technology-focused communities and infrastructure;
  • Grow economic clusters around targeted industries, including cybersecurity, life sciences and personalized medicine, big data and analytics, and autonomous systems; and
  • Support high-tech company formation by expanding early-stage investments in high growth companies.

Virginia: the best state for talent

We are in a global competition for talent, and by investing in education and workforce development, Virginia will become the best state in the nation for talent. This will help keep our students and workforce here in the state, as well as attract talent from across the country and the world.


  • In his K-12 policy rollout, Dr. Northam prioritized increasing computer science education and making it easily accessible by all students in the commonwealth, with an emphasis on increasing the number of women and minorities taking computer science courses. By the time a student graduates from high school, they should have a basic comprehension of computer science just like we expect on core subjects like math and science.
  • Dr. Northam understands the importance of STEM-H curriculum (Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics and Health) and has called for the development, piloting, and refinement of interdisciplinary general math and science courses, and specific course offerings for high school students, like cybersecurity.
  • A Northam Administration will streamline pathways into the workforce by expanding access to dual-enrollment programs, especially in career and technical education (CTE) around the state. New dual-enrollment pathways will align with regional employer demands and be the first tier to Northam’s new G3 Program– Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back.

Higher education

  • As a graduate of Virginia public schools—Virginia Military Institute and Eastern Virginia Medical School—Dr. Northam knows that we have the best schools in the country. However, college affordability remains a challenge, and that’s why Dr. Northam has proposed the Four Year Promise which guarantees level tuition and gives families the predictability they need.
  • Our colleges and universities attract outstanding men and women from other states and countries to Virginia, which is why we must leverage the excellent reputation of our universities to help brand Virginia. This is one reason why Dr. Northam has called for expanding UVA-Wise, and doing so will help recruit talent to the region.
  • Dr. Northam will encourage greater collaboration across our higher education system in research and commercialization to create jobs and grow our economy. He was proud to work with Governor McAuliffe and the Administration to invest in our higher education institutions and support technological and research infrastructure. These capital projects will support additional university research, collaboration with private industry, entrepreneurship opportunities for students, and commercialization.


  • Dr. Northam’s signature workforce development program—the G3 Program—focuses on the alignment of workforce training programs with the needs of business and industry, particularly in high-demand fields in the technology sector such as cyber security, computer programming, and data analytics.
  • As an Army veteran, expanding employment opportunities for transitioning service members and veterans will remain a priority for Dr. Northam. This includes focusing our attention on the thousands of high-paying jobs available right now in Virginia’s technology sector. The Northern Virginia Technology Council’s Veterans Employment Initiative is an excellent example of the technology, business, education, and public sectors working together to employ veterans, and the state should do all that it can to support and replicate NVTC’s model throughout Virginia. In addition to V3 and NVTC’s efforts for veterans, a Northam administration will continue to provide veterans and their spouses, as well as Guard members, with cyber-security training at no cost. Partners include Cisco, Palo Alto Networks, AWS, FORTINET, Yotta, the SANS Institute, and (ISC)2 .
  • Dr. Northam has a long history of supporting LGBTQ Virginians, from opposing bathroom bills that discriminate against transgender people to protecting members of the LGBT community from workplace and adoption discrimination. As lieutenant governor, Dr. Northam cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of protecting LGBTQ public employees from discrimination. We are a commonwealth of merit, and we are welcoming to all. House Bill 2 in North Carolina was devastating to the state’s economy and opposed by leaders throughout the technology industry. Similar bills have been introduced—and passed— in Virginia’s General Assembly, and Dr. Northam will be a brick wall against these discriminatory and hurtful policies becoming law. The detriment these policies would have on Virginia’s economy cannot be overstated, particularly in the technology sector. The detriment these policies would have on Virginia’s economy cannot be overstated, particularly in the technology sector.
  • Lastly, Dr. Northam strongly disagrees with the Trump Administration’s DACA decision, and joins technology leaders from across the country and here in Virginia urging Congress to support and protect our DREAMers.

Establish Virginia as a leader in smart community development

  • Smart communities leverage information and communications technology to increase citizen engagement, make better use of existing infrastructure, and ultimately provide an enhanced quality of life. Development of smart communities also offers exciting economic development and entrepreneurship opportunities. A Northam administration will continue the work of the Smart Community Workgroup.
  • Additionally, a Northam administration will work with the private sector and federal partners to develop best practices and implementation guidelines for communities while supporting the creation and commercialization of new technologies to support smart communities.

Building technology infrastructure

There are a host of infrastructure priorities that a growing and robust technology industry requires:

  • Broadband. Dr. Northam has called for all of our stakeholders — public and private — to work collaboratively and agree on a set of broadband goals for the commonwealth, including a clear set of metrics in order to evaluate broadband access, upload and download speeds, as well as Virginia’s rank among our neighbors. As part of this effort, a Northam administration will look for additional ways to partner with industries through a series of requests for information (RFIs) to define options for broadband buildout. This will expand new opportunities, such as the public-private partnership in Southside with Virginia’s Tobacco Commission, Mid-Atlantic Broadband Company, and Microsoft — a project that utilizes unused portions of television broadcast spectrum to push out high-quality wireless broadband. Dr. Northam won’t accept any measure of success other than more households and businesses online, and he can guarantee that tens of thousands more will be by the end of his term.
  • Transportation. Dr. Northam was proud to support the bipartisan 2013 transportation package championed by Governor McDonnell, Speaker Howell, and leaders from the technology community and chambers of commerce, including the Northern Virginia Technology Council.
  • METRO. Dr. Northam supports a strong METRO system and the necessary changes to make the system more safe and accountable.
  • Aviation. Dr. Northam understands the importance of the Dulles Corridor to the northern Virginia technology community and supported last year’s action to support its efforts to be competitive and hold ontothe United Airlines hub.
  • Data Centers. With 70% of the world’s Internet traffic flowing through northern Virginia, the state is the largest and most active data center market in the U.S. Dr. Northam has previously committed to growing our data center footprint—especially in rural Virginia—which will allow us to expand renewable energy and attract more businesses.
  • Digital Ports. As the first transoceanic fiber cable connections in the Mid-Atlantic come to the city, Virginia Beach now refers to itself as a “digital port.” Soon it will have the highest-capacity subsea cable to cross the Atlantic, along with another connection that will increase the availability of ultra-high-speed broadband services between the U.S. and South America. In the same way our physical port spurs economic development in the commonwealth by expanding market opportunities, this new “digital port” will take our data-related economic development marketing to new heights. Our economic development and broadband teams will work diligently to leverage the capabilities of these new assets to benefit areas across Virginia.

Cluster focus

There are limited funds and resources with which a governor can attract businesses. Dr. Northam will work through the Governor’s Opportunity Fund, GO Virginia, and economic development stakeholders in the public and private sectors to grow and attract businesses that are part of a strategic plan to grow the economy in top priority areas. These areas all have a “spin-off” or “cluster” focus which leads to other economic opportunities:

  • Cyber security,
  • Life sciences and personalized medicine,
  • Big data and analytics, and
  • Autonomous Systems

Extend Virginia’s leadership in cybersecurity

There are 76 million attacks on the commonwealth of Virginia’s network each year. At the same time, there are currently 36,000 open cyber jobs in the state—the most in the nation—and with an average starting salary of $88,000. Growing our cyber security capabilities will not only help grow our economy, but it will keep us safe. A Northam administration will:

  • Continue to support educational efforts to integrate hands-on cyber security training into all majors and disciplines to reflect its impact of on all aspects of life.
  • Support the Mach37 Cyber Accelerator located at the Center for Innovative Technology which has launched 40 cyber startups in its first three years of operation.
  • Continue to support efforts to increase penalties for cybercrime.
  • Increase the frequency and quality of cyberthreat information sharing across agencies and among stakeholders.
  • Extend Virginia’s efforts to identify and address challenges related to the Internet of Things and cyber-physical systems.
  • Protect the commonwealth’s IT infrastructure to insure the safety and sanctity of citizen data and personally identifiable information.
  • Expand efforts (CybervetsVA) to bring cyber employment opportunities to the commonwealth’s veterans, their spouses, and National Guard members.
  • Increase efforts to fill the cyber-workforce pipeline and reduce the number of open cyber vacancies.

Become a world-wide leader in personalized medicine

  • Dr. Northam is a strong supporter of the INOVA Center for Personalized Health, the Global Genomics and Bioinformatics Research Institute, and additional efforts where our higher education institutes are partnering with our health systems on medical research and personalized medicine. These efforts are bringing together our health systems and universities to leverage some our best technological assets and strengths— data storage, high-performance computing, data analytics, cyber security, and health care.
  • Dr. Northam has worked closely with the Virginia Center for Healthcare Innovation and believes we have substantial, data driven opportunities to move towards the triple aim of improving cost, access, and quality in our healthcare system. Personalized- or precision- medicine is one of the next transformative opportunities to improve both the quality of care and care outcomes.
  • Virginia has a chance to become a worldwide leader in personalized medicine—by funding research, we’ll attract world-class researchers and faculty, which will result in grants and other funding opportunities. With this funding will come commercial opportunities, and we can strategically develop economic clusters around cancer and other types of medical research.

Big data/open data/data analytics

  • Dr. Northam supports expanding the commonwealth’s use of data sharing and analytics to improve citizen outcomes, drive efficiencies, and increase transparency.
  • Expanding the commonwealth’s use of data to help define and provide solutions for challenging socioeconomic issues such as opioid addiction, food deserts, and other challenges Virginians face.
  • The global ‘big data’ market is projected to grow at an annual rate of 14.4 percent, to hit $92.2 billion by 2026, and these efforts will establish Virginia as a leader. Our commonwealth has a vast amount of data assets and companies and we need to maximize their potential.

Extend Virginia’s leadership in autonomous systems

Virginia has been recognized as having an outstanding “pro-autonomy” policy environment for autonomous systems, and we must maintain an “autonomy friendly” policy and regulatory environment for the testing, deployment, and adoption of autonomous technologies across all domains—air, land, and sea. A Northam administration will:

  • Support work being done by the Virginia Center of Excellence for Unmanned Systems to advance awareness and adoption of autonomous technologies.
  • Continue to leverage Virginia’s geographic and technical advantages to expand autonomy related testing and development opportunities.
  • Expand initiatives at educational institutions to build a workforce of skilled individuals who can design and operate autonomous vehicles, and also understand the benefits these tools can offer to traditional industries such as agriculture.
  • Increase the use of autonomous vehicles by the commonwealth’s agencies to enhance safety and provide efficiencies.

Support early-stage investments

Supporting early stage investments in high-growth companies means keeping venture capital and investment money here in Virginia. There are a few key investment funds that have demonstrated important results for Virginia that a Northam administration will continue to support, including:

  • As of August 2017 – CIT GAP Funds have invested $22.4 million to help develop 182 high-growth new startups, which were then able to attract an additional $600 million in private equity investments.
  • In just four years, the Catalyst (Virginia Biosciences Health Research Corporation) funded $10 million for 24 projects involving 6 VA research universities and 19 industry partners. This resulted in $80 million in follow-on investment and $20 million in private funds.
  • In June 2017, Governor McAuliffe announced $2.7 million in funding to support 40 Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund (CRCF) awards representing targeted areas of promising research commercialization, including advanced manufacturing, cyber security, energy, environment, information technology, life sciences, and unmanned systems.
  • The Virginia Research Investment Fund supports collaborative research and commercialization among our universities and industry.

In sum, these investments will promote startups and entrepreneurship and work to foster a statewide ecosystem of access to capital and mentorships. Coupled with Dr. Northam’s call for a zero BPOL and merchant’s capital tax for new startup small businesses in rural or economically distressed areas for the first two years, we will ignite innovation and entrepreneurship across the commonwealth.

For Virginia's Future

Join the campaign