Virginia has five times been named the nation's top state for business by CNBC-- more than any other state. But in many ways, these positive economic circumstances are largely confined to certain areas and certain populations. Unemployment rates are significantly higher among Black Virginians, and the economy of the “urban crescent” is much different than that of the “rural horseshoe”. And for Virginia college graduates of many backgrounds, crippling student debt is impacting their ability to buy a home, change careers, or start a family.
Virginia21 believes it is essential that we continue making strides that lead to good jobs, entrepreneurship, high employment rates, and socioeconomic mobility for all Virginians. We must close employment equity gaps to allow and incentivize young people to remain here after graduation. Virginia must not only be the best state to do business, but also the best state to work and find a good-paying job. We must ensure that burdens like student loan debt do not stop young Virginians from leading happy, prosperous lives right here in the Commonwealth.
Young Virginians all across the Commonwealth are struggling with the burden of student loan debt. While there is only so much that can be done at the state level to ease this financial burden, Virginia must do all they can to protect student borrowers. This means having policies in place that ensure student borrowers understand the terms of their loan, all of the payback , forgiveness, and relief options available to them, and that they are not victimized by predatory lending practices.
Virginia must ensure that there is a smooth pipeline from our institutions of higher education to the workforce. This means providing students with work-study or internship opportunities while in school, ensuring alignment between our higher education system and areas of high need in the workforce, and a commitment to collaboration between employers and postsecondary institutions. This way we can ensure that students are prepared for success after graduation, the needs of our workforce are met, and that our economy will thrive.