‘The demand for talent is tremendous’ — Virginia boosts investment as push for high-tech degrees gains speed
Virginia’s commitment to invest in educating high-tech talent won the sweepstakes for Amazon’s second headquarters a year ago, but now some big bills are coming due in the next state budget to help public colleges and universities deliver on the promise.
The $1.1 billion, 20-year plan will require an additional $30.4 million in the two-year budget that Gov. Ralph Northam will present next month, on top of $16.6 million in annual funding already assumed in the budget.
The state money will go to at least 11 higher-education institutions to add at least 31,000 degrees in computer sciences and related fields to feed graduates into the “tech talent investment pipeline” that was central to the Amazon deal.
At the same time, the institutions are seeking more than $108 million in capital funding, primarily for construction of facilities at George Mason University’s planned new computing and digital learning campus in Arlington County for graduate-level degree programs in high-tech fields.
The university, based in Fairfax, has to match the state investment with its own money, just as Virginia Tech does for $168 million in the current budget to build an innovation campus for graduate programs in Alexandria.
Finally, colleges and universities are seeking about $27 million of capital investments for equipment to support bachelor’s production at 11 institutions that have signed agreements with the state to deliver their share of graduates with skills sought by Amazon and other technology companies in Virginia.
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