McAuliffe’s Administration Plans to Increase State Monies in Order to Bring Businesses to Virginia and Increase Tourism Dollars Spent
In last Friday’s speech at the Virginia Economic Summit at the Williamsburg Lodge, the state’s governor, Terry McAuliffe said his administration plans to increase state monies in order to lure businesses to Virginia as well as increase the amount of tourism dollars spent within the state.
McAuliffe would like to expand the amount of money in the Governor’s Opportunity Fund (GOF) to entice out-of-state businesses to relocate to the state. The current amount in the GOF is approximately $11.8 million, though the money in it is directed toward municipalities for traditional fixing of roads and increased utility operations.
Presently, the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) handles the duties of extolling the state’s image across both the region and the country, and does so under a budget estimated at $24.5 million per year.
The governor mentioned that since taking office in January, the state has received more than $5 billion in direct investment for Virginia. He also indicated that international trips to China, Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom touted the business potential of the state. Meanwhile, the close proximity of many ambassadors around the world provided opportunities to meet with them personally in order to tout all that Virginia can offer.
One area that got little applause from the business crowd was when McAuliffe pushed for more expansion of Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. The governor has thus far been unable to expand it due to Republican opposition, with the latter group citing the overall cost to provide healthcare to 400,000 state residents who currently are uninsured.
McAuliffe also indicated that the sequestration that resulted from budget conflicts between President Obama and Congress have harmed Virginia more than other states due to the budget cuts involved.
Some of the ideas McAuliffe has in mind included expanding both rural broadband Internet access and the craft beverage industry, the latter of which has taken off in popularity in recent years. He also plans a business plan competition next year that will offer $1 million in prizes for ways to develop high-growth sectors.
Other plans include building the Atlantic Coast pipeline, a proposed project between the state, West Virginia and North Carolina that would create a natural gas pipeline between the three states. McAuliffe made a bigger push to increase the amount of nuclear energy available from the state.
As far as specific industries to target, McAuliffe took a long-range approach in selecting cyber security firms, advanced manufacturing and energy, biotechnology and data analytics, saying that the quartet were high-growth areas that would provide the jobs of the future.
The Virginia Chamber of Commerce, which sponsored the event, announced that it would team with other state organizations to determine the fastest growing employment sectors, then work with those businesses in finding ways to meet their employment needs.
The Chamber also said it plans to work with Old Dominion University to provide an annual report, updated monthly, that will offer key business statistics within the state.