During a visit to James River Air Conditioning, Inc. in Richmond this morning, Governor Bob McDonnell and Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling highlighted jobs and economic development successes in the Commonwealth over the last two years. This morning's visit coincided with today's release of the most recent federal employment data, which showed Virginia's unemployment rate has fallen to 5.8 percent. This is the lowest unemployment rate in Virginia since January 2009; it is down from 6.2 percent in December 2011.
James River Air has been a part of the Richmond community for 43 years. Hugh E. Joyce founded James River Heating Air Conditioning Company in 1967. The company, initially called Joyce Air, began as a one-man operation, with the owner selling, installing and managing the entire operation. Today, the company has over 150 employees and serves the entire Central Virginia area through a fleet of over 80 service and installation trucks. James River Air specializes in residential and commercial air conditioning, as well as green energy solutions.
Speaking about today's visit, Governor McDonnell remarked, "James River Air, a company that has been growing in the Commonwealth for 43 years, is a Virginia success story. Started as a one-man business in 1967, today the company employs 150 men and women. These are the success stories that we want and need more of here in Virginia. Unfortunately, too many companies did not weather the economic downturn as well as James River Air and were forced to close their doors, leaving too many hard working Virginians without a paycheck. That is why our administration's top priority has always been job creation and economic development. We set to work on day one to bring more private-sector jobs back to Virginia, to get our economy back on track and Virginians back to work. This bipartisan effort is getting results. Today, we received the great news that Virginia's unemployment rate has dropped to 5.8 percent; the lowest rate in three years. Our unemployment rate is down 1.4 percent since our first full month in office. Virginia truly is open for business, and we are seeing the results."
Governor McDonnell continued, "While this is positive news, the reality is that too many Virginians are still unemployed. That is why we will continue to work tirelessly to bring new jobs and more opportunities to the Commonwealth. This session, we proposed targeted investments that will increase access to capital for businesses and support job creation funds and initiatives to attract new businesses to Virginia. These investments build on the over $100 million in funding approved over the last two years that has resulted in huge economic development projects coming to the Commonwealth, projects like Northrop Grumman moving its corporate headquarters from California to Virginia, and Microsoft Corp. making the largest economic investment in the history of Southern Virginia. Our economic development portfolio goes beyond bricks and mortar businesses. We are pursuing economic development opportunities in agriculture and forestry exports, as December brought the first delivery of $25 million worth of Virginia soybeans to China, with another delivery now under way. We are exploring a multitude of energy initiatives in pursuit of our goal of making Virginia the 'Energy Capital of the East Coast,' including advancing wind energy development off the coast of Virginia, and promoting energy efficiency in the Commonwealth by converting our fleet of state vehicles to alternative domestic fuels. We also know that future job creation depends upon present-day education. We must have a well-prepared workforce for the new jobs coming to this state. That is why we have placed an emphasis on increasing access and affordability at our higher education institutions, while also preparing our K-12 students for the highly-skilled jobs of the 21st century, and enhancing workforce development efforts for those looking for work or to further their careers. The more we can do at the state level to encourage private-sector growth and promote private-sector endeavors, the better off Virginia will be down the road. Virginians from all regions, and both parties, are working together to bring good work to the state. Our efforts are being recognized. CNBC and Pollina have both named Virginia the best state in the nation for business. Our work is not done, but today's jobs numbers demonstrate that Virginia is on the right track. This is a very good day for all Virginians."
Lieutenant Governor Bolling added, "Needless to say, I am delighted to see that our unemployment rate has fallen to 5.8%, the lowest rate in more than three years. This is a significant drop, and it is further indication that our efforts to get our economy growing again and create jobs are succeeding. During the past two years, we have worked hard to recruit new businesses and industry to our state and help existing businesses grow, closing 754 economic development deals. As a result, our unemployment rate has declined from 7.2% to 5.8%, a decline of almost 20%. However, many of our fellow Virginians continue to look for jobs, so we still have a lot of work today. I assure you that this will remain the top priority of our administration."