Governor’s Rural Jobs Council issues interim report

virginia-blue-oversizeThe Governor’s Rural Jobs Council today released the interim report to the governor. The council divided its work into three subcommittees: infrastructure, entrepreneurship and workforce development/K-12 education. The council’s progress and activities are detailed in each subcommittee report.

Speaking about today’s release, Gov. Bob McDonnell said, “While Virginia’s unemployment level remains at a four-year low and is one of the lowest on the East Coast, the fact remains that rural Virginians face a higher rate of unemployment and a greater challenge for economic recovery. Creating jobs and attracting economic development to these hard-hit rural areas has been a focus for my administration, and while progress has been made, there is more work to be done. This report provides important data that we can use to strategically Lt. Gov. Lieutenant Governor Bolling, Secretary Haymore and Secretary Cheng and all those serving on the council for their important ongoing work.”

Speaking about the report, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling said, “I am pleased to present the Interim Report at a meeting of the Governor’s Rural Jobs Council in Danville today. Since the council began its work several months ago, members have worked hard to identify a number of initial policy recommendations. I have no doubt that these initial recommendations will result in valuable and innovative policy recommendations for inclusion in the council’s final report in June. While our administration has made a lot of progress in advancing economic development activity in rural parts of our state, there is a lot of important work left to do. The work of this council is further proof that we remain committed to providing positive and demonstrable results through the end of our term.”

Several themes have been emphasized across the subcommittees as crucial to promoting job creation and economic development in rural Virginia. They include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • ·         Increasing access to and improving existing business development resources
  • ·         Fostering and incentivizing the entrepreneurial spirit in Virginia’s youth
  • ·         Providing localities with the tools to better attract entrepreneurs and small business owners
  • ·         Improving the work, industry, and college readiness of middle and high school students
  • ·         Expanding the enrollment of middle and high school students in industry aligned, rigorous STEM-H programs and courses, including career and technical education
  • ·         Proposing real estate enabling legislation and the need to build collaborative communities
  • ·         Encouraging private sector involvement and funding strategies for future infrastructure related projects


The council will continue to solicit and receive input, suggestions and comments from agencies and the public both online and through its public meetings.


About the Governor’s Task Force for Local Mandate Review

The Governor’s Rural Jobs Council was established by Executive Order 57 establishing the Rural Jobs Council.  He named Lieutenant Governor Bolling, Virginia’s Chief Jobs Creation Officer, as Chair of the Council.  Secretary of Commerce and Trade Jim Cheng and Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore will serve as co-vice chairs for the group.


The membership of the council consists of legislators and leaders in the business, manufacturing, agriculture, and healthcare industries.  The group will make recommendations to address the challenges to economic growth in rural Virginia and develop a statewide rural infrastructure plan to include transportation, education, and community development. Members:


  • ·         Shannon Blevins, Director of Economic Development, UVA at Wise, Wise County
  • ·         David Brash, Senior Vice President of Business Development and Rural Strategy, Wellmont Health System, Lebanon
  • ·         Delegate Kathy Byron, Lynchburg
  • ·         Elizabeth Crowther, President, Rappahannock Community College, Saluda
  • ·         Jeff Edwards, CEO, Southside Electric Cooperative, Crewe
  • ·         Katie Frazier, President, Virginia Agribusiness Council, Richmond
  • ·         Timothy Heydon, CEO, Shenandoah Growers, Harrisonburg
  • ·         Rebecca Hough, Co-Founder and CEO, Evatran, Wytheville
  • ·         Thomas Hudson, President, Virginia Coal Association, Richmond
  • ·         Delegate Danny Marshall, Danville
  • ·         Ned Massee, Chairman, Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Richmond
  • ·         Delegate Don Merricks, Pittsylvania County
  • ·         Phil Miskovic, Councilman, Crewe
  • ·         Martha Moore, Vice President for Government Affairs, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, Richmond
  • ·         Delegate Israel O’Quinn, Abingdon
  • ·         Bill Parr, Parr Properties, Cape Charles
  • ·         Senator Phil Puckett, Tazewell
  • ·         Delegate Margaret Ransone, Kinsale
  • ·         Nicole Riley, State Director, National Federation of Independent Business, Richmond
  • ·         Michael Robinson, Superintendent, Smyth County Public Schools, Smyth County
  • ·         Senator Frank Ruff, Clarksville
  • ·         Nettie Simon-Owens, Director of Workforce Services, Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, South Boston
  • ·         Brett Vassey, President and CEO, Virginia Manufacturers Association, Richmond
  • ·         Senator William Wampler, Executive Director, New College Institute, Martinsville
  • ·         Delegate Onzlee Ware, Roanoke


Responsibilities of the Governor’s Rural Jobs Council

  • ·         Identify impediments to and opportunities for job creation in Rural Virginia
  • ·         Recommend strategies to improve K-12 education and the workforce pipeline
  • ·         Produce a comprehensive and meaningful Economic and Infrastructure Policy for Rural Virginia
  • ·         Make recommendations to improve the tax and regulatory environment in the Commonwealth

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