Jobs and the Economy
The number one issue in Southwest Virginia is the economy. We simply need more economic growth. For too long Southwest Virginia has lost jobs to other regions, states and countries. In fact, as the jobs leave, the workers tend to leave as well. Southwest Virginia has so much to offer and it is unacceptable for our best and brightest to be forced to leave the area for other opportunities.
Israel works continually with the Southwest Virginia legislative delegation of Senators and Delegates to bring jobs to our region. There are several avenues through which Israel has worked to tackle these complex issues and he is committed to continuing in these efforts. He is a member of the House Commerce and Labor Committee which is the key committee tasked with business and economic development issues.
First, Israel has worked to reach out to prospective and existing companies. We have great quality of life and a strong work ethic, two of the most desirable characteristics businesses seek. Israel has worked hard to showcase our region to any and all prospective companies. That collaborative work has at times included the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the Commonwealth Opportunity Fund, the Tobacco Commission and local economic development teams. Southwest Virginians must continue working together for our region.
Secondly, we must ensure that Southwest Virginians have the necessary skills that employers are seeking. If we want to bring high-tech jobs to the region, we must provide citizens with high-tech training so that they can succeed in that work environment. Through partnerships with local community colleges and private workforce development programs, we have been able to train folks in highly technical skills making them desirable employees. These efforts include retraining workers who have been displaced or previously laid off. Many exciting partnerships are being developed to accommodate these needs and we must continue to provide educational opportunities to those who seek them. Workforce development is a key component to future success in our region.
Third, Southwest Virginia has an incredible blend of natural beauty and unique culture, providing us the prime opportunity to promote tourism. Our region is an asset and Southwest Virginia is well-suited to providing enjoyable tourism experiences. By working collaboratively, we can promote Southwest Virginia as a wonderful place to visit.
Virginia is consistently rated as one of the best states in America in which to do business. To maintain this business environment, we must be vigilant in keeping taxes low, keeping regulations to a minimum, protecting our right to work status, and giving small businesses the resources they need to be successful. Politicians do not create jobs; it is the business owners who create jobs and they often look to these factors in determining their potential to be successful.
One of the key economic development hurdles we face in Southwest Virginia is access to broadband. This year Delegate O’Quinn carried and passed legislation that will allow for broadband deployment on the same fiber through which public utilities are connecting their electricity substations through the Grid Security and Modernization Act. This will also allow broadband fiber to be deployed into areas it has never been before. The utility can then lease that excess fiber capacity back to an internet service provider which will provide internet service, and the money they earn on those leases will then be refunded back to the electric ratepayers. It is a win-win for Southwest Virginia business and residential customers.