McAuliffe releases ‘Building A Flourishing Rural Economy’ plan
Terry McAuliffe today released his new “Building a Flourishing Rural Economy” plan to prioritize rural communities in Virginia.
As governor, McAuliffe is pledging to bring economic opportunity to rural communities across the Commonwealth and get every Virginian online by the end of his term.
In the plan, McAuliffe is committing to partner with President Biden’s administration to create Virginia’s first intentional rural economic development hub through a new pilot project, driving long-term, sustainable economic growth in critical areas of the Commonwealth.
The plan also calls for the establishment of Virginia’s rural communities as energy innovation capitals of the East Coast, invest in crumbling school infrastructure and support Virginia farmers.
Rural Virginia is home to Virginia’s largest industry — agriculture and forestry — providing 440,000 jobs and over $90 billion a year in economic impacts. The once-flourishing manufacturing and industrial hubs in Virginia’s rural communities have been hit hard over the past several decades as manufacturing industries have left, and the Great Recession eliminated jobs that have never returned.
Virginians living in rural communities experience lower wages and a lack of infrastructure like broadband that people need to pursue economic opportunity. Virginia’s rural health care infrastructure is chronically underfunded, and only 8 percent of Virginia’s physicians practice in rural areas.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated these inequities, reversing progress made on fighting the opioid epidemic that had already disproportionately impacted rural Virginians.
“In rural Virginia, when we talk about broadband, education, health care, and the economy — all these issues are interconnected. Nowadays it’s nearly impossible to get a job or an education without internet access, which is why we need a holistic approach in our post-COVID recovery that is big and bold,” McAuliffe said. “As governor, we’re going to have rural Virginia lead the way on universal broadband, clean energy jobs, and 21st century farming technologies. But that’s still not enough. We need to make rural health care and education equitable by reinvesting in those systems alongside telehealth, virtual education, and career training. It’s time to take Virginia’s rural economy to the next level, and we will get it done.”