The State Capitol in Richmond. Photo by Amadeust.

As the immediate past chair of the Manufacturing Development Commission and a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I’ve had the opportunity to travel around the commonwealth, visit with businesses and meet with local economic development leaders. In these travels it has become increasingly evident that the MAGA Republicans are adversely impacting the business climate in Virginia.

These modern-day MAGA Republicans are not your parents’ pro-business Republican Party. They have turned away large capital investments in Southside, their attacks on law enforcement have jeopardized Virginia’s chances for the new FBI headquarters, and while they have been focused on culture wars, Virginia businesses have chosen to expand their operations to other states. Additionally, they have dismissed the innovation and enhanced profits that come from a diverse and equitable society and relentlessly attacked the top priority of parents when they consider relocating to Virginia — our nationally ranked public school systems.

In a recent conversation with a Northern Virginia recruiter, she informed me that she was asked by a potential employee who was planning to relocate to Virginia from Washington state, “What’s going on in Virginia? I thought Virginia was more welcoming, but you’re starting to sound like Mississippi. I’m not sure this is the right place for me and my family.” This type of negative reaction to Virginia is the direct result of the MAGA Republicans’ continuous, highly publicized, political attacks on teachers and our public schools. If this has happened once, how many more times are parents choosing not to come to Virginia because of the MAGA Republicans?

Prior to Gov. Youngkin taking Virginia out of consideration for the Ford electric vehicle battery plant, no previous governor, Democrat or Republican, had ever turned away a $3.5 billion capital investment and 2,500 direct jobs targeted for Southside Virginia. In an attempt to be the most MAGA of the MAGA Republican presidential candidates, Gov. Youngkin portrayed his rejection of the Ford plant as “saving Virginia from the Communists.”

The commonwealth’s business community knows that diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI, are good for business, good for consumers, good for profits and good for Virginia. But, according to Youngkin and his MAGA appointees, “… DEI [has] gone off the rails …” or from his chief diversity officer, “We’re not going to bring that cow up anymore. It’s dead.”

Compare those sentiments to the major economic centers of the commonwealth. The Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce website states, “The diversity of our community is one of our greatest assets…” Additionally, the Hampton Roads Chamber describes DEI this way: “Diversity in the workplace increases creativity, fosters innovation, provides better consumer understanding, enriches brainstorming and leads to better decision making.” This shows just how out of touch the modern-day MAGA Republicans are with mainstream business professionals.

And finally, while MAGA Republicans focus on culture wars and conspiracy theories, businesses are expanding their operations outside of Virginia. Two existing drone companies shared that they are expanding their future operations to North Carolina and Mississippi. One was expanding their test and integration facility from unmanned air to include unmanned land, air and sea systems. This could easily have been done anywhere along the Chesapeake Bay or Virginia Beach, but instead, this company expanded their operations to North Carolina. The other drone company was looking to build a new manufacturing facility near a major engineering university, but due to a lack of focus on business retention by the MAGA Republicans, this company was lured to Mississippi State, not Virginia Tech.

It all adds up to this: If you are a business owner and you want a business-friendly environment, you will no longer find it in the MAGA-led Republican Party. Their focus on attacking our diversity, fighting culture wars, turning away major American businesses, and following every internet conspiracy theory they can find is adversely impacting the business environment in Virginia. Instead, business owners need to support and elect Democrats to the General Assembly in 2023 and a Democratic governor in 2025. Then, perhaps, we can regain our position as the No. 1 state for business, continue to improve our support for workers, and bring back some of the businesses we’ve lost because of the distractions from the MAGA Republicans.

Del. David Reid, D-Loudoun County, has 35-years experience in the Northern Virginia business community,...