Governor talks jobs in swing through Southside
Monday, May 07, 2012
News & Advance
With Southside Virginia posting some of the highest unemployment levels in the state, Gov. Bob McDonnell visited Danville and Martinsville on Monday to talk about what he and his Chief Jobs Creation Officer, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, are doing to spur economic development.
Danville and Pittsylvania County have the lowest unemployment rate in three years. Last week the Virginia Employment Commission released rates that had the region at 8.3 percent. However, that is still higher than Virginia's overall rate of 5.7 percent.
McDonnell acknowledged the rates are better but still higher than anyone would like. Southside has been a major focus for the state in trying to recruit business. In a symbolic move, McDonnell visited the grand opening of ICF International in Martinsville, which is bringing 500 new jobs to the region, and signed several bills dealing with job creation.
Two of the bills were sponsored by local legislators in the General Assembly, who joined him at several locations. McDonnell and Bolling both also toured EIT and spoke to workers. McDonnell uses EIT as a prime example of the types of new businesses they are working to bring to Southside.
"You've been such a good model on how to do things right," McDonnell told EIT employees.
EIT is headquartered in Loudon County. McDonnell said he is working to recruit Northern Virginia companies to expand in places nearby like Danville and Pittsylvania County since these areas have a low cost of living and a plentiful workforce.
McDonnell said his administration is trying to work more with the Tobacco Commission since it has a great deal of resources for the area and work with the local chambers of commerce in marketing the cities and counties in Southern Virginia as one region.
Bolling also credited the Tobacco Commission as one of the region's most useful assets since it has millions of dollars to spend directly on some of the hardest hit parts of the state.
McDonnell cited the economic appeal of bringing high tech jobs to the area, but this requires more education than a high school degree. Not only did McDonnell recently ask Virginia college presidents to keep tuition increases near 2 percent - the consumer price index - but he also wants the schools to expand with staff and class sizes so more Virginians can get college degrees.
The average tuition increases for students have been in the double digits over the past decade - a trend McDonnell called "unacceptable."
For additional information contact Ibbie Hedrick at 804-225-2487 or email@example.com.