Strategic Plan for Equitable Economic Development (SPEED)
SPEED focuses on community, innovation, and industry.
Broadly speaking, this objective speaks directly to the needs of the community that is Richmond; its people, its neighborhoods, and the small businesses that serve local restaurants. It speaks to the character of the city, including its heritage. In economic development terms, it looks less at high-wage, high-growth industries and more at strengthening the fabric of the community: its people and it's places.
It is already becoming clear that the most resilient industries post-COVID-19 will be tech-driven. The more rapidly Richmond can embrace that trend, the more successful it will be in repositioning itself. High-growth entrepreneurship and R&D will play a major role. In addition, Richmond has an immediate opportunity to embrace "smart city" initiatives.
A more robust business retention and expansion (BRE) program, along with a new set of strategies to leverage anchor institutions will be critical to position Richmond for a stronger recovery and add new jobs and capital investment. In addition, an active BRE program protects against company exits to surrounding suburban counties or to other competitor metro areas. Without a strong foundation that properly engages and supports the City’s existing employers, other approaches aimed at bringing in outside investment, companies, and talent will be less effective. Richmond’s overall economic development program—not just the Economic Development Department, but including other City departments, and local and regional partners—must be redesigned to better address the needs of existing companies.
The plan establishes five aggressive economic development goals through Fiscal Year 2026:
- $3 billion in capital investment for economic development projects;
- 3,000 announced new jobs with annual salaries at or about $52,000;
- Reduce the poverty rate by 5 percentage points;
- Public and private sector real estate development activities that generate $25 million in annual real estate tax revenue; and
- 2,500 postsecondary credentials awarded to Richmond residents.
The plan outlines tangible steps toward addressing long-standing inequities that have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, including racial disparities in education, poverty, housing, and health. Each of the plan's initiatives are designed to build a more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable economy for Richmond.
SPEED was developed om consultation with TIP Strategies; VCU's Center for Urban and Regional Analysis; The M Companies; Hugh Helen LLC; input from meetings with more than 200 community and business leaders and stakeholders; and a survey that had more than 800 unique responses.
The full plan can be viewed here.