The Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, spoke before the Council of Governments Board of Directors at their July meeting, outlining his plan for a New Virginia Economy and expressing his support for regional collaboration.
"With the assets that we have here in our region we are about as powerful as any [region] could be," said Governor McAuliffe in his opening remarks, echoing the focus of the COG Board as they work in 2015 to boost regional economic competitiveness.
Since taking office 17 months ago, McAuliffe has focused on building a New Virginia Economy. Virginia is the largest recipient of Department of Defense spending, explained McAuliffe, so when cuts are made or a government shutdown occurs, it is challenging for the state to bounce back. As outlined by COG’s 2012 Economy Forward report, these cuts ripple through Metropolitan Washington as a whole, making it necessary for the region to further develop its private sector while also maximizing its relationship with the federal government.
"We’re working hard to protect our assets at the federal level, but clearly we realize we need to build those businesses of the future," said McAuliffe.
Identifying international opportunities has been a priority for the Governor-he recently returned from a tour of six European countries, attracting new business to his state, including a grocery store chain and a green paper manufacturing business. So far, he has secured $7.5 billion in new capital investments. He also noted that employment is at an all-time high, with more than four million Virginians working. He encouraged his fellow leaders to consider exploring opportunities in the cybersecurity sector-the “best bet for new business” in the region-along with other burgeoning advanced industries like analytics and personalized medicine.
McAuliffe also stressed the importance of developing Virginia’s and the region’s workforce. He has called on Virginia’s universities to consider the skills and certifications they are providing to students, that a college education is about more than earning a degree. It is his hope that as 900,000 Virginians retire over the next decade, there is a new generation of skilled workers qualified to fill those positions and the new jobs that are created.
He also acknowledged that Metropolitan Washington is connected by asphalt, by steel rails, and by our airports, and called for continued cooperation in improving Metro and preventing an expansion of the perimeter rule at Reagan National Airport to maintain a healthy balance among the area’s airports.
Board members expressed their gratitude to McAuliffe for his ability to work across state lines, for his interest in the health of the Chesapeake Bay, and for his continued investment in the region’s future workforce by being an advocate for K-12 funding.
"We thank you for leadership, your inspiration, and your commitment to the commonwealth and the DMV region," said Mayor of Alexandria and COG Board Chairman Bill Euille. "The collaboration and partnership that you have with your colleagues is very important."
The Governor’s Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones will join the COG Board for their annual retreat in July, where they will continue their conversation about regional economic competitiveness.
Watch Governor McAuliffe’s full remarks.