Governor's Economic Development and Jobs Creation Commission Holds First Meeting
– At Meeting, McDonnell Highlights Components of his "Jobs and Opportunity" Agenda –
Commission Announces Nine Subgroups; Full Meetings to be Held July 26th and September 30th; Final Recommendations Due to Governor October 16th
RICHMOND – Governor Bob McDonnell continued his focus on turning Virginia's economy around with the first meeting of his Economic Development and Jobs Creation Commission in Richmond. The Commission was established by Governor McDonnell's Executive Order Number One, which was issued moments after he took the Oath of Office on January 16th. During today's meeting the Commission, co-chaired by Lieutenant Governor and Chief Jobs Creation Officer Bill Bolling and Senior Economic Advisor Bob Sledd, outlined their goals and workplan for the next five months. The Governor also used today's meeting to highlight 17 pieces of legislation from his "Jobs and Opportunity" agenda that received broad bipartisan support during the recent session of the General Assembly. A full listing of the bills recognized today can be found at the bottom of this release.
Speaking about today's meeting and bill signing, Governor McDonnell remarked, "Creating good jobs for Virginians is the top priority of our administration. Too many people are without a job, or worried about keeping the one they have. In these tough economic times we must do everything we can to grow and create jobs in Virginia. This is the best place in America in which to do business – we saw that just last week with the announcement that Fortune 100 company Northrop Grumman will be moving its corporate headquarters here. But we can't stand idly by. We must be aggressive in putting in place the policies that will improve our business climate and make Virginia a global job magnet. This Commission will be identifying new ideas and initiatives to make the Commonwealth even more competitive in the global marketplace."
Governor McDonnell continued, "During this past session of the General Assembly we advanced a comprehensive package of legislation designed to spur job creation and economic development in the state. Our 'Jobs and Opportunity' agenda received strong support from Democrats and Republicans in the General Assembly. Today we are highlighting 17 initiatives from that package. Among the bills are measures to allow us to more aggressively and comprehensively utilize the job-creating Governor's Opportunity Fund; make it easier for companies to qualify for the major jobs facility tax credit; and, strengthening enterprise zones for job creation. These are important pieces of legislation that have greatly increased Virginia's competitiveness, but there is more we can do. With the recommendations the Commission will make in October we will put together phase two of our 'Jobs and Opportunity' agenda. I know that the members of this Commission will work tirelessly over the next five months to develop innovative, achievable solutions to help grow our economy and get Virginians back to work."
Lieutenant Governor Bolling also commented, "The primary goal of this Commission will be to assist us in evaluating our current approach to economic development and job creation and determine what we can do to strengthen Virginia's competitive advantage. This Commission will help us advance our Jobs and Opportunity Agenda and make certain that we position Virginia to take full advantage of a future economic recovery. This is the most important issue currently facing our state, and the work of this Commission will be instrumental in helping us pursue economic development strategies that will lead Virginia to a more prosperous future."
Senior Economic Advisor Bob Sledd noted, "Virginia is the best place to do business, but we can't stop there. Each person in the room today has critical expertise in their respective fields and will provide invaluable insight into the needs of their specific industries. I look forward to working closely with each member and subgroup to find every way by which we can improve our economic climate, develop new ways to create jobs and implement policies that assist Virginians in doing business."
During today's meeting the Commission was organized into nine subgroups: Business Development (expanding and retaining existing businesses); Economically Distressed Areas (rural and urban); Energy; Manufacturing; Recruitment (new businesses to Virginia); Small Business; Technology; Tourism; and, Workforce Development. Each subgroup will meet at least monthly to develop proposals to outline phase two of the Governor's jobs and opportunity policy agenda.
Full meetings of the Commission will be held July 26th and September 30th. The Commission's final recommendations are due to the Governor on October 16th.
The primary goal of the Commission, as outlined in Executive Order One and discussed today, is to make recommendations on how Virginia's economic development and job creation efforts can be improved. To do this, the Commission will:
- Evaluate Virginia's current business environment to determine strengths and weaknesses and make recommendations on how our business environment can be improved.
- Study and assess Virginia's existing economic development programs and incentives, compare them to programs and incentives offered by other states, and make recommendations on how these programs and incentives can be improved.
- Review the success of Governor McDonnell's initial Jobs and Opportunity Agenda and make legislative, budgetary, and programmatic recommendations to be advanced and implemented in 2011.
During today's meeting, Commission co-chairs Bolling and Sledd also discussed expectations of the subgroups – that they produce a number of specific, innovative and achievable proposals, consistent with Governor McDonnell's vision and priorities, to promote economic development and job creation in Virginia. These visions and priorities include:
- Making Virginia the Energy Capital of the East Coast
- Making Virginia the best place to start a small business
- Reducing tax and regulatory burdens on businesses and individuals
- Making economically depressed communities more attractive to new businesses
- Strengthening Virginia's competitive advantage domestically and globally
- Capitalizing on economic opportunities of Virginia's geographic and natural resources
- Expansion of core existing industries, including technology, defense, health care and transportation
- Positioning Virginia as a leader in emerging industries, including advanced manufacturing and bio-technology
"Jobs and Opportunity" Agenda Bills Signed Today:
SB475 (Watkins)/ HB380 (Edmunds) – Strengthens the criteria for Governor's Opportunity Fund
SB554 (Puckett)/ HB1244 (D. Marshall) – Allows the Governor discretion regarding the local match for the Governor's Opportunity Fund
HB555 (D. Marshall) – Expands Enterprise Zones and reinvests surplus into real property grants
SB472 (Watkins)/ HB624 (Kilgore) – Expands the Major Jobs Facilities tax credit
SB473 (Watkins)/ HB604 (Merricks) – Adds the Lieutenant Governor and Commerce and Trade Secretary to Center for Rural Virginia Board of Trustees
SB 730 (Reynolds)/ HB1381 (Armstrong) – Establishes a major employment/investment project site planning grant fund
SB656 (Ruff) – Property tax classification for renewable energy manufacturing
SB347 (Hanger)/ HB582 (Landes) – Provides for Center for Rural Virginia's expansion and promotion of agricultural opportunities
SB184 (Colgan)/ HB199 (K. Cox) - Expands the scope of incentive packages reviewed by MEI Project Approval Commission
HB943 (Landes) – Establishes Small Business Job Grant Fund
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