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Roanoke Free Press
Thursday, January 31, 2013

McDonnell appoints Delegate Onzlee Ware to Rural Jobs Council

Del. Onzlee Ware with Governor Bob McDonnell

Del. Onzlee Ware with Governor Bob McDonnell

RICHMOND – 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.  (See commentary below and Jeff Artis President Emeritus of SCLC.)

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 

** With this appointment Del. Ware cements a favorable relationship with the Governor. Ware has publicly waffled on voting for the Governor’s Transportation Bill, lifting the Uranium Mining ban and voting in favor of HB 259 that redraws Senate districts that assures loss of Democratic Senate seats in 2015. Close watch on how Ware votes will determine his loyalty.

It is telling that Del. Ware of Roanoke City has not consulted  Roanoke City’s Senator John Edwards who’s redrawn district puts his reelection in jeopardy.

A new majority-minority Senate district does no good if Democrats lose the Senate should the redistricting hold up in court. Del. Ware voted in favor of redistricting in 2012 against the Black Caucus’s recommendation. Ware’s reasoning at the time was that his district was safe.

Jeff Artis, SCLC spokesperson said in a comment: I am very much against this GOP’s plan. Frankly, it’s a bunch of bull. What good is a new Black voting district if the Democrats lose more control of the Senate? It’s a trick only a fool would buy in to. We get a Black voting district. Big deal. The senator representing that Black district will always be on the losing side of any vote taken in the senate. No thank you.

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