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Proposed Richmond economic development plan emphasizes equity, speed

Mayor Levar Stoney speaks at a lectern.
Mayor Levar Stoney presents the proposed Strategic Plan for Equitable Economic Development at city hall on Monday. (Patrick Larsen/VPM News)

Officials on Monday at city hall presented the Strategic Plan for Equitable Economic Development for the first time, and said they’re hoping to bring $3 billion in capital investment to Richmond, create 3,000 jobs that pay $52,000 a year or more, and reduce the city’s poverty rate by 5%. All before the end of 2026.

The strategic plan also sets goals to generate an additional $25 million in property taxes from new development and for 2,500 Richmonders to receive postsecondary credentials in that time frame. It has no cost associated with it, but some of the plan’s methods require taxpayer dollars — like developing jobs programs through Richmond Public Schools and improving infrastructure.

“This is not just an economic development plan, it’s an economic justice plan,” Mayor Levar Stoney said, appearing with about a dozen councilmembers, local business people and advocates who served on the plan’s steering committee.

Councilmember Mike Jones said the plan aims to support growing industries — but was also designed to help underserved city residents build wealth.

“Put young folk to work. Give them hope,” Jones said. “Give them justice. And that’s not a lot to ask for. We don’t have to look far to see the impact of a city rife with social and economic inequities.”

SPEED also acknowledges some difficulties that Richmond residents have faced. According to the report: Job growth has lagged behind surrounding areas like Chesterfield County; the city’s population growth has outpaced new jobs; minimum-wage workers continue struggling to afford rent; and some still are navigating the ongoing eviction crisis.

Also, the report indicates that labor inequities persist, with Black Richmonders being overrepresented in low-paying jobs.

To help alleviate those inequities, officials said the plan focuses first on community — supporting higher education initiatives, providing affordable broadband internet access to all residents and supporting minority businesses. It also seeks to continue developing local tech and life-sciences industries, while working to attract big businesses to establish headquarters in the city.

The plan will be formally introduced during Monday’s city council meeting.

Patrick Larsen is VPM News' environment and energy reporter, and fill-in host.