Va. Gov: State to promote region
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Bristol Herald Courier
Va. Gov: State to promote region McDonnell: Officials working to bring employers to SWVa. BY DAVID McGEE BRISTOL HERALD COURIER BRISTOL, Va. Â- The process takes time, but state officials have a "laser focus" on bringing employers to Southwest Virginia, according to Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. Speaking to the Bristol Herald Courier editorial board, the governor lauded a wide-ranging effort to promote the region, including a 2011 "red carpet tour," where state officials Â- led by McDonnell and Lt. Gov. Bill Boiling Â- brought top executives of 14 firms to the region for a two-day showcase. "We showed [executives] Â- in great detail Â- the benefits of doing business in .Southwest Virginia: uained workforce, cheaper cost of doing business. We specifically targeted northern Virginia technology companies and told them why it made sense for them to do business down here. CGIAMS is the best example, and it's been a great success," McDonnell said. The governor said he recently spoke with CGI about the possibility of bringing more jobs to this region and acting as an ambas- McDonnell sador to help the state promote Southwest Virginia. Discussions are ongoing with some ofthe firms that visited here about the possibility of opening facilities in this region, McDonnell said. "Several specific companies have engaged in the next round of discussions with people in the Coalfields Economic Development Partnership about opportunities," McDonnell said. "Several have had repeat business, or our people have gone there to talk about specific opportunities, and there are a couple of active projects in line, and we don't talk about those until we actually have a 'yes.'" See GOVERNOR. Page A6 The 2011 red carpet event cost about $53,000, with the coalfields partnership and Virginia Economic Development Partnership paying equal portions. The governor said such events are an important part of letting prospective employers know about the region, and he hopes to do something similar each year. "This is reasonably new, it was a relatively small expenditure for each of those entities and there is no question that will result in tangible job creation," the governor said. "Some of these projects take a while. If someone is already looking, or in the final phases, they might have made a prompt decision. But many of these are months and years of the corporation making a decision to expand or Â- in some casesÂ-move." The showcase event is part of an overall strategy to "increase the visibility" of Southwest Virginia with potential employers, especially those in the eastern U.S., McDonnell said. "If we're going to put southern Virginia and Southwest Virginia on the map, we've got to bring people here and show them all the great things here. We've got to showcase the region," the governor said. In addition to technology companies, McDonnell expects coal will remain- a significant player in the region's economy while tourism continues to grow. "The energy industry is vitally important to Southwest Virginia. We've been battling the federal government, unfortunately, on their policies on coal and natural gas where they've not been helpful. They've not been approving permits; they've been hostile to coal and hydraulic tracking," the governor said. McDonnell plans to return to the region later this month to participate in a rally for coal. "I'm a strong supporter ofthe coal industry. They're building some of the cleanest plants in all of America. The new coal-fired plant at Wise is probably the cleanest coal-fired plant in the country. The sequestration projects, coal gasification, some of these technologies will be perfected in the next five years. That will help revive the coal industry. We're looking for new places to export coal." McDonnell said it's too soon to know if the Heartwood center near Interstate 81 's Exit 14 is having the desired effects of promoting regional heritage and arts tourism but that tourism nationwide is booming. "I would say, it's fprobably too soon to tell, bmt the feedback from ecoruomic development people, a lot of activity is going on there [Heartwood] that will pay dividends. We just can't quantify it at this time," McDonnell said. "The whole goal is to be the economic, marketing hub to showcase all the great things about Southwest Virginia. Sometimes, it's hard to directly equate dollars with investment in a specific facility, but it creates the larger ability to showcase a region, and it makes a great place to come and tell the Southwest Virginia story." email@example.com (276)645-2532 If we're going to put... Southwest Virginia on the map, we've got to bring people here and show them all the great things here. We've got to showcase the region." - Va. Gov. Bob McDonnell, on bringing employers to the area
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