McDonnell touts economic development, progress

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Print this page Amelia Vogler

A net total of 71,500 jobs have been created in Virginia since February, Gov. Bob McDonnell said Thursday.

“Job creation remains and will continue to remain our top priority until our economy has rebounded from the recession,” McDonnell said during a news conference. McDonnell was joined by Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, Secretary of Commerce and Trade Jim Cheng and Bob Sledd, the governor’s senior economic adviser, to promote the administration’s economic development and job creation efforts.

Virginia currently has the third-highest job increase in the country and the third-highest percentage increase in job creation in the country. The 7.1 percent unemployment rate is the third-lowest among states east of the Mississippi River and ranks 13th lowest overall.

“Virginia is open for business again, but we still have a long way to go,” McDonnell said.

“While Virginia’s unemployment rate is below the national average of 10 percent, it is still an unacceptable situation and my cabinet and I aim to lower it,” he added.

The conference comes ahead of McDonnell’s first trade mission trip, starting on Saturday. McDonnell, the First Lady, Cheng and Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore will travel to Great Britain, Germany and the Netherlands to meet with business officials to encourage investment in Virginia and to promote tourism and Virginia products including wine, seafood, pork and peanuts.

The mission follows a recent month-long economic development trip to Asia by Cheng and other economic development officials, who met with business prospects with interests in Virginia.

Bolling said Thursday that 110 economic development deals have been closed in Virginia since the inauguration of McDonnell. Those investments include 7,154 new jobs and $1 billion in capital investment.

“We’re pleased with the early success, but we are looking to expand and increase our successes, especially in certain parts of the state, like southern and southwest Virginia,” Bolling said.

Northern Virginia led the way, accounting for 31 percent of the new jobs, but the rest of the state has had an even distribution with the newly created jobs. Bolling said that the administration is looking to help the southern and southwest sections of Virginia with economic development.

Bolling also said that about 80 percent of the new net jobs are in the private sector, whereas the other 20 percent of new jobs are in the public sector, mostly federal government jobs.

McDonnell said he and his economic team are also looking to capitalize on Virginia’s wealth of natural resources, especially wind power.

“Virginia is uniquely positioned on the Atlantic Coast for off-shore wind farms,” McDonnell said. “We have good real estate for the construction and implementation of the wind towers, as well as exploring other opportunities in energies, such as oil and natural gas.”

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