Thursday, May 06, 2010

McDonnell puts jobs commission to work

Virginia can't rest on its pro-business reputation and must be more aggressive in marketing its assets and competing for jobs, state leaders said Wednesday.

"This is a top priority for what faces our people right now," Gov. Bob McDonnell told members of his Economic Development and Jobs Creation Commission.

McDonnell called the state's 7.4 percent unemployment rate "absolutely unacceptable" and said: "It's nice that it's a couple of percentage points below the national average, but that doesn't make you feel good when you go to Martinsville and see 20 percent of the people unemployed."

McDonnell's 64-member commission is charged with making recommendations on improving the state's business climate, improving economic development programs and incentives, and considering additional legislative and policy changes.

The full commission will hold public meetings in July and September before delivering recommendations to McDonnell in October. The commission is co-chaired by Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Bob Sledd, the governor's unpaid senior economic adviser. The panel includes Cabinet members, legislators and business leaders.

McDonnell won legislative support for a package of economic development incentives that he said will give him "more tools than any other governor has had to tell the Virginia story."
Additional steps are needed to keep Virginia competitive with other states and other countries, administration officials said.

"The reality is, we became a little bit complacent," said Sledd, adding that Virginia lags behind other states in attracting jobs in growing industry sectors such as biotechnology and advanced manufacturing.

The Roanoke Times© May 6, 2010
By Michael Sluss

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