Virginia Lieutenant Governor Focuses Efforts
on Economic Development
By Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling
During our 2009 campaigns, Gov. Bob McDonnell and I made clear our top priority was getting Virginia’s economy growing again and creating jobs. Since taking office, we have worked hard to keep that promise.
Shortly after his inauguration, Gov. McDonnell designated the lieutenant governor as Virginia’s chief jobs creation officer. In this role, I am responsible for overseeing Virginia’s economic development efforts and coordinating those initiatives across state agencies.
I have worked closely with the governor to shepherd our jobs creation agenda through the General Assembly, met with dozens of CEOs to talk about how we can help their businesses grow and expand, negotiated economic development deals to bring new business and industry to Virginia and visited with countless business groups to promote our economic development efforts.
Our job creation efforts are based on a clear understanding that the private sector, not government, creates jobs. The role of government is to pursue policies that help the private sector create jobs.
First and foremost, we have worked to make certain that Virginia remains a great place to do business. By keeping taxes low, eliminating overly burdensome regulations, maintaining a favorable litigation environment and protecting our right to work law, we can position Virginia to take full advantage of the economic recovery.
Last year, we asked the General Assembly to join us in promoting economic development by passing our Jobs and Opportunity Agenda, which was designed to give us more tools to recruit new business and industry, help existing businesses grow and expand, and provide more resources to tell the Virginia story domestically and internationally.
The General Assembly accepted our challenge with broad bipartisan approval. As a result, we now have more tax credits for businesses creating jobs in Virginia, more flexibility in administering important programs like the Governor’s Opportunity Fund and a more competitive work force training program.
In addition, the General Assembly invested $57 million in new funding for proven economic development and job creation programs. With this funding, we have significantly expanded our domestic and international marketing programs and we will be opening new economic development and trade offices in China, India and the United Kingdom.
We have already begun to see success from our aggressive approach. The number of unemployed Virginians has decreased each of the 12 months since we took office and our unemployment rate has dropped 0.7 percent to 6.5 percent, the third lowest of any state east of the Mississippi.
This year, the General Assembly approved $36 million in investments that Gov. McDonnell and I requested to further advance our economic development efforts. This new package of strategic initiatives will allow us to compete for new business in a wide range of sectors, including emerging technologies, information technology, advanced manufacturing, alternative energy, tourism and small business.
Armed with these tools and resources, we have been very aggressive with our business recruitment and development efforts. It is safe to say that we are doing everything we can to send the message far and wide that Virginia is open for business!
Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling also serves as the state’s chief jobs creation officer.