Over 200 members of the business community visited the Waddell Theater to hear from the region’s county chairs and city mayors on shared challenges and opportunities. Immediate Past Board Chair Todd Rowley, President Scott Ralls and Provost Julie Leidig greeted the cross-section of business leaders before they filed into the theater. College Board Chair and Loudoun County Representative Rick Pearson formally kicked things off with a welcome to all the summit attendees. The event was sponsored by the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce and several local chambers.
In his remarks, Chair Pearson emphasized NOVA’s active partnership with area businesses. “Most importantly, when it comes to meeting the staffing needs of the business leaders here today, NOVA is more than stepping up to the challenge,” said Pearson. The audience applauded when Pearson shared how the College’s cybersecurity program has grown from 49 students in the fall of 2014 to more than 1,000 students today. The audience included two members of Loudoun County’s General Assembly Delegation, Delegates Kathleen Murphy and David Reid.
Moderator Kathryn Falk, secretary of the Northern Virginia Chamber and an area Cox Communications executive, posed a question concerning regional efforts to attract Amazon’s so-called “HQ2.” Fairfax County Board Chair Sharon Bulova, a proud NOVA alumna, said that what should ultimately bring Amazon to our region is “workforce, workforce, workforce.” Falk agreed; noting that everyone was on a “great campus” of the College doing “…a great job training the tech talent of the region.” Chair Bulova went on to state that her county is partnering with Mason (George Mason University) and NOVA to create a pipeline into higher education and jobs. Loudoun County Board Chair Phyllis Randall added the importance of her county school system’s ongoing work with NOVA. “Over 50 percent of the region’s students in dual enrollment are from Loudoun County,” said Randall.
Other major subjects discussed by the group included transportation funding challenges and the growing issue of affordable housing. Randall emphasized the importance of the housing issue by stating, “housing is the one thing that keeps me up at night.” In addition to County Board Chairs Randall and Bulova, other elected leaders participating in the NOVA Loudoun event included Prince William County Board Chair and United States Senate Candidate Corey Stewart, Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol, and Mayor Allison Silberberg of the City of Alexandria.