The economy touches everything

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Print this page Robert C. Powell III, Editor

“It’s the economy, stupid” was the rallying cry of Bill Clinton in his successful presidential bid in 1992.  The phrase could easily be adopted by either candidate for governor this year.

The economy has supplanted transportation as the overarching issue of the election. Democrat Creigh Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell are touting their ideas for creating jobs and attracting new business. In our cover story, Special Projects Editor Jessica Sabbath scrutinizes their proposals.

The weak economy has affected the earnings of the state’s largest publicly traded companies and the compensation of their CEOs. Garry Kranz reports that, unlike many other states, CEO pay largely has tracked company performance in Virginia, according to a survey by human resources firm Findley Davies Inc.

While many businesses have suffered in the recession, Virginia’s wineries have done surprisingly well. Writer Jim Raper finds that they are selling more tickets for tastings than last year. One of the draws might be Virginia’s wine blends, which are attracting critical attention.

Wine sales might not be a reliable indicator, but economists have spotted other signs of recovery in recent weeks. When the rebound comes, which jobs will employers fill first? Heather B. Hayes says the state’s community colleges have a pretty good idea. Hot jobs will include occupations tied to health care and IT.

Warehouses and distribution centers are coping with the effects of the recession, but Elizabeth Cooper reports that vacancy rates in Hampton Roads are among the lowest in the country. Nonetheless, warehouse owners and brokers are going the extra mile to attract tenants, cutting rates 5 to 25 percent and offering periods of free rent.

Not even affluent Arlington County is immune to the weak economy. But, as M.J. McAteer points out, Arlington catches a heavy cold when everyone else has pneumonia. The county’s good economic genes include a highly educated work force and careful planning.

This issue shows that Clinton’s campaign theme still rings true: the health of the economy affects everything. But if the candidates use the phrase, they ought to give it a Virginia accent. “It’s the economy, sir,” is more our style.

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