For Immediate Release: August 24, 2015
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Brian Coy, (804) 225-4260, Brian.Coy@governor.virginia.gov

Governor McAuliffe Launches Governor’s Council on Youth Entrepreneurship

~Council is latest Administration initiative to catalyze entrepreneurism in Virginia~

 

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe today signed Executive Order 47 establishing the Governor’s Council on Youth Entrepreneurship, which shall be responsible for coordinating and implementing youth entrepreneurship initiatives and fostering the growth of the entrepreneurial ecosystem for young people in Virginia.

“The foundation of the new Virginia economy rests on the strength of Virginia’s young people,” said Governor McAuliffe.  “This Council will work to grow the Commonwealth’s innovation ecosystem and ensure that Virginia is the best state in the nation for young people to innovate, create, and start a business.”

The Council, which will be co-chaired by Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones, will include student entrepreneurs and leaders from education, business and startup communities. Working with higher education and other public and private sector resources, the Council will conduct a comprehensive assessment of current local, state and federal programs and services available to young entrepreneurs, connect local business leaders and job creators with young entrepreneurs to help grow ecosystems in their communities and provide recommendations to support the goals and priorities of the Council.

“Entrepreneurism is a vital strategy for job and economic growth in the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones.  “In order to attract the best and brightest talent to Virginia, we need to create an ecosystem that fosters entrepreneurism and innovation.  This Council is another step in achieving that goal.”

The Council is the outgrowth of several roundtables and meetings Governor McAuliffe and his Administration held with student innovators and higher education faculty to learn about the challenges and opportunities facing young entrepreneurs in Virginia.  As a result of these discussions, Governor McAuliffe identified the following initial priorities for the Council:

  1. Expand students’ intellectual property (IP) rights – The Council shall work with Boards of Visitors, administrators and faculty at institutions of higher education to craft policies that give students more rights over their own research and IP. 
  2. Promote the formation of collaborative spaces for entrepreneurs and students to meet – Entrepreneurs consistently cite physical space as a priority in deciding where to start a business.  The Council shall work with partners in education and business to identify opportunities for expanded space for entrepreneurs and students to collaborate. 
  3. Encourage schools to offer courses in entrepreneurship that are easily accessible to all students and to integrate innovation into the curriculum – The Council shall evaluate strategies to further integrate entrepreneurship into classroom environments and curricula in higher education and work to ensure that entrepreneurship courses are accessible to all students regardless of their concentration of study. 
  4. Identify ways for colleges and universities to award academic credit to students for starting a business – The Council shall work with Boards of Visitors, administrators and faculty to determine criteria for awarding academic credit to students for starting a business, similar to existing policies awarding academic credit for an internship, independent study or co-op, to allow students to remain in school on a graduation track while still pursuing business ventures.   
  5. Remove unnecessary costs for students starting a business in Virginia – The Council shall consider ways to remove regulations and fees that create unnecessary burdens or obstacles for individuals who are starting a new business.

The Council will work closely with institutions of higher education and other state agencies to make progress toward achieving these priorities, while supporting opportunities to advance research, innovation and commercialization at Virginia’s colleges and universities.  

Expanding entrepreneurial enterprises in Virginia has been a top priority of Governor McAuliffe and his Administration.  Governor McAuliffe’s “New Virginia Economy” Strategic Economic Development Plan identified entrepreneurism as one of the five key pillars for growth in Virginia.  In June, Governor McAuliffe launched Virginia Velocity, a first-class business plan competition designed to encourage entrepreneurs in key sectors to bring their ideas and grow their businesses in Virginia.  The Council is the next step to further catalyze Virginia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The initial report of the Council’s assessments and recommendations is due to the Governor no later than December 1, 2015.

The full text of Executive Order 47 is below:

NUMBER FORTY SEVEN (2015)

ESTABLISHING THE GOVERNOR’S COUNCIL ON YOUTH ENTREPRENEURSHIP 

Importance of the Initiative

            Entrepreneurship and innovation are among the central pillars of Governor McAuliffe’s economic development platform.  The foundation for a new Virginia economy rests upon the strength of Virginia’s young people.  In order to stimulate future economic prosperity for all Virginians, young people must have the support and resources they need to become economically secure and successful.

In Virginia, the unemployment rate for young adults was 8.4 percent, double the unemployment rate for Virginians over age 35.  At the same time, the majority of new jobs come from startup firms (firms less than five years old), estimated at about 3 million jobs per year nationally.

Virginia is home to some of the best colleges, universities and community colleges in the world.  By investing in our young people, we can provide them the tools they need to thrive in the 21st century workforce.  We can ensure that they have the foundation to become creative and innovative leaders of the new Virginia economy.  In classrooms and businesses across the Commonwealth, our young people are already developing the ideas that will transform our future.  We have achieved great success in supporting young entrepreneurs, but we also have an outstanding opportunity for improvement and growth.  Virginia should work to strengthen the innovation infrastructure for young people by engaging with leaders in the public and private sectors, the education and business communities, and entrepreneurship ecosystems.   

Establishment of the Governor’s Council on Youth Entrepreneurship

            Accordingly, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Governor under Article V of the Constitution of Virginia and under the laws of the Commonwealth, including, but not limited to §§ 2.2-134 and 2.2-135 of the Code of Virginia, and subject to my continuing and ultimate authority and responsibility to act in such matters, I hereby establish the Governor’s Council on Youth Entrepreneurship. 

Governor’s Council on Youth Entrepreneurship

            The Governor’s Council on Youth Entrepreneurship (Council) shall be responsible for coordinating and implementing youth entrepreneurship initiatives and fostering the growth of the entrepreneurial ecosystem for young people in Virginia.  Specifically, the Council is charged with:

  • Conducting a comprehensive, statewide assessment of current programs, services, and local, state, and federal resources that support Virginia’s young entrepreneurs and innovators;
  • Developing a website that aggregates these resources to provide a one-stop location for young entrepreneurs, businesses and educators to easily access information;
  • Connecting young entrepreneurs to assets in their communities through a series of roundtables, town halls or other collaborative events to bring together local business leaders and job creators with young entrepreneurs to help grow these ecosystems; and
  • Providing additional recommendations to achieve the goals of this Council and reporting regularly to the Governor. 

Additionally, the Council will address five significant priorities related to youth entrepreneurship: 

  1. Expand students’ intellectual property (IP) rights – The Council shall work with Boards of Visitors, presidents, administration, and faculty at institutions of higher education to craft policies that give students more rights over their own research and IP.  In considering possible alternatives, the Council shall consider model policies of institutions that have expanded student IP rights with the goal of strengthening innovation ecosystems and stimulating economic growth. 
  2. Promote the formation of collaborative spaces for entrepreneurs and students to meet – The Council shall work with partners in education and business to identify opportunities for expanded space for entrepreneurs and students to collaborate.  Entrepreneurs consistently cite physical space as a priority in deciding where to start a business.  The Council shall consider model collaborative spaces across Virginia and the nation.  
  3. Encourage schools to offer courses in entrepreneurship that are easily accessible to all students and to integrate innovation into curriculum – The Council shall research and evaluate strategies for integrating entrepreneurship into classroom environments and curricula in higher education.  It shall explore best practices, such as entrepreneurs-in-residence and out-of-classroom curricular programs.  It shall work to ensure that entrepreneurship courses are easily accessible and available to all students at institutions of higher education regardless of a student’s concentration of study. 
  4. Identify ways for colleges and universities to award academic credit to students for starting a business – The Council shall work with Boards of Visitors, presidents, administrators, and faculty at institutions of higher education to determine criteria for awarding academic credit to students for starting a business.  In the new Virginia economy, it is critical to recognize the important skills and training that students receive from launching a new business venture.  Similar to awarding academic credit for an internship or co-op, awarding academic credit to students for starting a business provides crucial workforce development opportunities that allow students to remain in school on a graduation track while still pursuing business ventures.  
  5. Remove unnecessary costs for students starting a business in Virginia – The Council shall consider ways to remove regulations and fees that create unnecessary burdens or obstacles for individuals who are starting a new business.

Composition of the Council

            The Council will be led by the Secretary of Commerce and Trade and include leaders in higher education and business, innovators and entrepreneurs, and others with appropriate expertise, as appointed by the Governor.  In coordination with relevant state agencies, the Council will serve as a central coordinating entity to identify opportunities and develop recommendations for improvement, including but not limited to: 1) entrepreneurship education, 2) support from the business community for young entrepreneurs, 3) strategies for keeping the ‘best and the brightest’ young innovators in Virginia, 4) opportunities for strengthening institutional support for student creativity and innovation, and 5) the growth of entrepreneurial ecosystems across Virginia.  The Council will also collaborate with other entities as appropriate and seek participation from relevant stakeholders, including the business and education communities, nonprofit groups, and advocacy organizations.

Staffing

            Staff support for the Council will be provided by the Office of the Governor, and any other Secretariats, agencies or offices as designated by the Governor, including staff from institutions of higher education if appropriate. The Council will serve in an advisory role to the Governor, in accordance with § 2.2-2100 of the Code of Virginia.  The initial report of the Council’s assessments and recommendations is due to the Governor no later than December 1, 2015.  Subsequent annual reports from the Council are due to the Governor on December 1st each year.  In coordination with the Council, each public institution of higher education will report annually to the Governor on its progress towards these goals.

Effective Date

            This Executive Order shall be effective upon its signing and, pursuant to §§ 2.2-134 and 2.2-135 of the Code of Virginia, shall remain in full force and effect from its signing until superseded or rescinded.

            Given under my hand and under the seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia this 24th day of August, 2015.    

 

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