Governor Bob McDonnell today announced the membership of his newly created Rural Jobs Council. This Council will build upon the success of the Governor's Commission on Job Creation and Economic Development and continue the Administration's focus on Virginia's rural communities.
On Wednesday, January 2nd, Governor McDonnell issued Executive Order 57 establishing the Rural Jobs Council. He has 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.
Speaking about today's announcement, Governor McDonnell said, "I am pleased to announce that these community and industry leaders have agreed to serve Virginia on this newly created Rural Jobs Council. Virginia's rural communities are the heart and soul of our Commonwealth and we must do everything we can to bring jobs and opportunity to these regions. I am confident this group will develop thoughtful recommendations and a solid infrastructure plan for rural Virginia."
Lieutenant Governor Bolling remarked, "I am honored to serve as Chair of the Governor's Rural Jobs Council. For the past three years, Governor McDonnell and I have shown our commitment to economic development, especially in rural Virginia, and this Council will continue that focus. This group will give Virginia the chance to expand Governor McDonnell's recent initiatives in the areas of entrepreneurship and education reform to ensure that all Virginians have the same opportunities, no matter their zip code."
Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore said, "I am pleased to see Governor McDonnell continue his support of rural Virginia, especially through his continued commitment in making agriculture and forestry key components of his economic development and jobs creation strategies. Agriculture and forestry have an economic impact in Virginia of $79 billion annually and support over 500,000 jobs in the Commonwealth. It is important that we continue to support these industries and our rural communities. I look forward to working with the Council on important rural development issues."
Secretary of Commerce and Trade Jim Cheng commented, "We have seen much success in Virginia, lowering our overall unemployment rate to 5.5%, well below the region and the national average, but we still have a long way to go. Too many areas of the Commonwealth still have stubbornly high unemployment rates. This council will be tasked with building upon the success of the last three years and identifying ways to continue to bring economic growth to all of Virginia's regions."
A copy of Executive Order No. 57 is available at http://www.governor.virginia.gov/PolicyOffice/ExecutiveOrders/viewEO.cfm?eo=57
Members of the Governor's Rural Jobs Council
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
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, Martinsville
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
Senator Frank Ruff, Clarksville
Brett Vassey, President and CEO, Virginia Manufacturers Association, Richmond
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