Thursday, July 9, 2009

McDonnell to Name Bolling “Virginia’s Chief Job Creation Officer”

Lt. Governor Bill Bolling

Lt. Governor Bill Bolling

McDonnell/Bolling Conference Call at 10:00 AM Thursday: Besides recruiting  more film and tourism to Virginia, Bob McDonnell Republican candidate for Governor says, “we can no longer trade on our reputation.” To that end both McDonnell and Lt. Governor Bill Bolling have created a laundry list of “Job Creation Initiatives.”

McDonnell said, “we need to be more engaged in the challenges we face” in competing with other states who invest twice the amount of financial incentives to recruit business.

In a McDonnell administration Bolling would serve as “Chief Job Creation Officer” – a cabinet level position to directly recruit new industry to Virginia. Bolling said he was “humbled by the confidence Bob has in me.”

In addition a Deputy Secretary of commerce and trade would be appointed to focus on the rural economy. This position would focus on economically distressed areas like Martinsville with 20% unemployment.

McDonnell proposes doubling the funding of the Governor’s Opportunity Fund from $20 million to $40 million. This increase would filter down to localities. Localities would then have the opportunity to increase incentives to entice business. Currently the match with state and locality is  one to one. The match under McDonnell’s plan reduces the required match for localities.

Expansion of the “job tax credit program” would reduce the number of  jobs a new business would be required to create from 100 to 50. The incentive is $1000 per job. In rural areas the jobs creation requirement would be reduced from 50 to 25 to qualify for the $1000 per job incentive.

Also proposed was an increase of the Governor’s limit per project from $1.5 million to $2 million. McDonnell blamed current Governor Tim Kaine for leaving $11 million of the “Deal Closing Fund” unused.

There was no clear answer on where the extra money would come from to double the funding that had been slashed in recent years by the General Assembly.

The four key points for job creation requires “thinking out of the box … while looking forward to a future economic resurgence,” said McDonnell.


RICHMOND- Bob McDonnell, Republican gubernatorial nominee and former Attorney General of Virginia, and Bill Bolling, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, today announced broad initiatives to help create new jobs in the Commonwealth in the years ahead. The ticket mates unveiled their proposals as Virginians continue to suffer through the highest unemployment rate in over 25 years.

To spur job creation in Virginia, McDonnell and Bolling called for:

  • Expanding use of the Governor’s Opportunity Fund by roughly doubling the funding available and broadening Fund rules to allow companies that generate additional state and local tax revenue to qualify
  • Appointing Lieutenant Governor Bolling to serve as “Virginia’s Chief Job Creation Officer” in the McDonnell/Bolling Administration
  • Designating one Deputy Secretary of Commerce to Focus Solely on Rural Economic Development
  • Providing a $1,000 tax credit per job to businesses that create 50 new jobs, or 25 new jobs in economically distressed areas

Speaking about the job-creation proposals McDonnell remarked, “Headlines noting the latest job cuts at local employers are an all-too-common part of the landscape in Virginia right now. Bill Bolling and I are committed to bring new jobs and more opportunities to every region of Virginia. This is a jobs campaign; we will be a jobs administration. Each one of the proposals we are announcing today will help ensure that our state government is taking every step possible to incentivize, facilitate and assist private companies seeking to create new jobs for Virginians.”

McDonnell continued, “The Governor’s Opportunity Fund can be a powerful weapon in the fight to attract new employers to the Commonwealth. And fight is the right word. We are competing against every other state, and increasingly many other nations, for the private companies that bring with them high paying jobs and much needed tax revenue. To better prepare the Commonwealth to win these battles we will double the money in the Governor’s Opportunity Fund. And we will broaden the Fund’s purpose to encourage Virginia companies to expand their operations in the state.”

McDonnell also noted, “In a McDonnell/Bolling Administration job-creation will be job number one. To ensure that we are focused on the goal at hand, and that we do not miss any potential opportunities to help Virginians get the good paying jobs they deserve, I will appoint Bill Bolling to serve as Virginia’s Chief Job Creation Officer. In this capacity he will coordinate economic development and job creation initiatives occurring in Virginia government. Bill’s background in private business and in the General Assembly makes him uniquely suited to successfully navigate the complicated intersections between private sector opportunities and the state government assistance that can be essential in making sure these opportunities are realized. By having Bill serve as Virginia’s “Jobs Chief” we will bring the big picture perspective to job creation that is so crucial during this difficult period for Virginia workers.”

Bill Bolling stated, “The most important issue currently facing Virginia is the need to get our economy moving again and create jobs for Virginia’s families. In the past four years our unemployment rate has increased by 130%, from 3% to 7.1%. This is the highest prolonged rate of unemployment in 20 years and 165,000 more Virginians are unemployed today than four years ago. We have to do everything we can to get laid off Virginians back to work, and Bob McDonnell and I have a detailed plan to do just that.”

Bolling added, “By increasing the size of our economic development incentive fund and expanding access to the Job Creation Tax Credit we can attract more businesses to Virginia. We will also assure greater focus and coordination of job creation efforts by having the Lieutenant Governor serve as the Commonwealth’s Chief Job Creation Officer, and we will place a greater emphasis on rural economic development by designating a Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade to do nothing but recruit new businesses to rural parts of Virginia, where jobs are desperately needed.These actions, together with our More Energy, More Jobs program, and reforms we have previously announced for small businesses and higher education, will position Virginia now to take full advantage of a future economic resurgence. This is the kind of leadership the people of Virginia are looking for from their next Governor and Lieutenant Governor, and this is the kind of leadership that Bob McDonnell and I will provide.”

Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling bring extensive business backgrounds to the 2009 campaign. Bob has undergraduate and graduate degrees in business. He served 21 years in the U.S. Army, both active duty and reserves, retiring as a Lt. Colonel in 1997. He worked as a corporate manager for American Hospital Supply Company, a then Fortune 500 Company. Bob has a lifetime rating of 91% from the National Federation of Independent Businesses and his Virginia FREE lifetime business rating and effectiveness rating were consistently in the top 10% of the House of Delegates. As Attorney General he created the Government and Regulatory Reform Task Force with the purpose of reviewing Virginia’s regulatory framework to find those regulations that can be improved, updated or amended in order to (1) better involve the people in their government, (2) ensure that regulations do not unnecessarily hinder free enterprise and (3) ensure that regulations do not place undue costs on Virginia taxpayers. The Task Force has recommended the removal of over 350 regulations. 

Bill Bolling has worked 30 years in the private insurance industry. As a State Senator, Bill received a 100% pro-business rating from Virginia FREE, as well as the Guardian of Small Business Award from the National Federation of Independent Businesses. During his time as Chairman of the Hanover County Board of Supervisors, Bill served as Chairman of the Greater Richmond Economic Development Partnership. Bolling served as Co-Chairman of McDonnell’s Government and Regulatory Reform Task Force.

Today’s proposals continue McDonnell and Bolling’s focus on job creation. The two rolled out their joint energy plan, “More Energy, More Jobs” in April. The comprehensive approach to meeting Virginia’s energy needs is based around keeping energy rates low, while employing more Virginians in the energy industry. Two weeks ago McDonnell traveled to Fredericksburg to announce new proposals to make Virginia the best state in America in which to open a small business. McDonnell’s higher education plan calls for the awarding of 100,000 additional degrees over the next 15 years to make the Commonwealth one of the most highly educated states in the country, attracting new employers to Virginia. The two have been vocal in their opposition to job-killing Card Check and Cap and Trade legislation which would have a negative effect on Virginia workers and employers.

Bringing New Jobs and Opportunity to Virginia

Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling will lead an administration dedicated to helping create new jobs for more Virginians. They understand that most Virginians have been impacted by this economic downturn, and that people are anxious about what the future holds. That’s why they will make their top priority bringing new jobs and greater opportunity to every corner of the Commonwealth.

To lay a solid foundation for sustained economic success, the next four years cannot be about fast talk and idle promises. It has to be about strong leadership to obtain practical solutions and measurable results, and using Virginia’s highest office to put in place the building blocks that will produce good jobs and incomes for all Virginians.

Bob and Bill are focused on growing Virginia’s economy, creating new jobs, re-training our workforce for 21st century jobs, and allowing all Virginians to achieve their dreams. Virginians will benefit from McDonnell and Bolling’s vision of a robust private sector, more incentives for businesses that locate or expand in Virginia, and a government that lives within its means, thereby allowing citizens to keep more of what they earn to invest and to spend as they see fit.

Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling have bold ideas and specific proposals to help overcome the challenges Virginians are facing and get our economy moving again.

Chief Job Creation Officer

Nearly every policy proposal of this campaign has a job creation and economic opportunity component. From increasing the number of college degrees awarded by 100,000 over the next 15 years to ensuring that our workforce in Virginia is one of the most highly skilled and knowledgeable and highest paid in the county, to making Virginia the energy capital of the East Coast to bring thousands of jobs to Virginia in the coal, nuclear, oil and natural gas, solar, wind, and biomass industries, a McDonnell/Bolling administration will be about helping the private sector create new jobs and more opportunities.

While several of the jobs-creating and workforce and economic development agencies are currently under the Secretary of Commerce (VDEP, Tobacco Commission, VEC, DBA, Tourism), many are organized under other secretariats, such as the Department of Minority Business Enterprise, Virginia Career Education Foundation, Office of Workforce Development, etc.

Additionally, our proposals on energy, higher education, K-12, etc. are based on creating new jobs and growing the economy, and will push even more jobs initiatives to disparate arms of state government.

We need strong leadership to coordinate all these efforts and make sure that every opportunity is fully explored to attract industry, help entrepreneurs, and create jobs.

  • As Governor, Bob McDonnell will appoint Lieutenant Governor Bolling to serve as “Virginia’s Chief Job Creation Officer” in the McDonnell/Bolling Administration
  • As Virginia’s Chief Job Creation Officer, the Lieutenant Governor would help coordinate all economic development and job creation initiatives across the various agencies of state government. The Chief Jobs Officer would be responsible to and acting at the direction of the Governor. Having the states second highest elected officer actively involved in recruiting new industries signals the importance of bringing new jobs to our state.
  • The Chief Jobs Officer would serve in a coordinating and oversight role with the various Secretaries, Agency heads, and initiative and program leaders to make sure all entities are working together in a coordinated and focused manner to attract new business to the state, expand existing businesses, and to create jobs.
  • The Chief Job Creation Officer, in coordination with the Secretary of Commerce and Trade, will evaluate all of Virginia’s job creation incentives and initiatives to determine the best program to increase the return on our investment. Virginia has many mechanisms to attract jobs to Virginia and help existing businesses expand. The Governor’s Opportunity Fund (GOF), the Virginia Investment Partnership Grant, the Major Eligible Employer Grant, the Virginia Economic Development Incentive Grant, as well as numerous tax credits and bond funding programs give the Commonwealth a significant tool chest to work from. In order to ensure that we are getting the best bang for the buck, we need to reevaluate our job creation incentives to determine which combination will provide the best return on our investment and successfully close the deal. We need to reach out to small, existing and large businesses and ask them what the best and most effective tools are in recruiting, retaining and expanding jobs in Virginia. As part of this analysis we must explore whether it makes sense to have so many different incentive grants and whether we should streamline the process and consolidate these various grant programs.

Rural Economic Development

Many of our rural cities and counties in Virginia have been hardest hit by the economic downturn. The City of Covington’s unemployment increased by 6.1 % in just the past year; Wythe County’s unemployment rate rose to 11.6% from 3.6%; King William saw a 4.6% increase in their unemployment rate; Smyth County had an increase of 7.1%; and the City of Martinsville has the highest unemployment rate in the state at 20.2%.

While these are hard numbers to face, we know that these rural cities and counties will be a critical part of the economic engine to turn Virginia around. They are the life blood of our great Commonwealth and they are filled with hardworking individuals who we will not forget.

  • The McDonnell/Bolling administration will designate one Deputy Secretary of Commerce to focus solely on rural economic development. This position will make recommendations directly to the Secretary of Commerce, the Chief Job Creation Officer, and the Governor on how to spur economic opportunities in rural cities and counties in the short and long term. This Deputy will spend extensive time in rural communities helping develop innovative and meaningful ways to retain and increase jobs in these areas.
  • This individual will be from a rural area and have experience with job creation in those areas.

Expansion and retooling of the Governor’s Opportunity Fund

The Governor’s Opportunity Fund (GOF) is designed as a “deal closing” fund to be employed at the Governor’s discretion when necessary to secure a company location or expansion in Virginia. The GOF serves as a final resource for Virginia in the face of serious competition from other states or countries. A GOF grant is awarded to the Virginia locality, with the expectation that the grant will assist in attracting new industry, resulting in the creation of new jobs and capital investment.

Currently Virginia’s GOF is budgeted at a level nearly 33% lower than the 2000-2002 levels, and another significant job creation initiative – the VEDP – is operating 25% lower than 2000-2002 levels. This is happening at a time when neighboring states and foreign countries are much more aggressive in marketing new incentives at attract jobs.

In FY2008, the GOF grants resulted in companies announcing new capital investments of $1.728 billion and the creation of 4,881 new jobs. The average projected salary for these announced new jobs is $49,292, which is 43% above the prevailing average wage of $34,521 among the localities which received GOF funds.

During these tough economic times it is puzzling that the fund has not been used to the maximum extent possible. For the first 13 years of the Fund, FY 1992-2005, all monies appropriated to the fund were fully invested in job creating businesses. However since 2006, Governor Kaine has left cash balances available for investment. Because the GOF takes in interest and the funds have not been fully spent, the current balance available for commitment is about $11,200,000, through the third quarter of this past fiscal year. That’s $11.2 million that could be spent right now to bring jobs to Virginia and expand existing businesses to create more jobs.

This is not to say that money should be spent just because it is allocated, but during these tough economic times when many companies are closing shop in Virginia, it is hard to believe that all resources have not been used to keep Virginia companies open and recruit more jobs to locate in Virginia.

  • As Governor, Bob McDonnell will use and manage the GOF in new ways:

Double the amount of the fund to about $40 million every 2 years. It is clear that our surrounding states are investing significantly more in job creation incentives than Virginia and we must increase our investment to be more competitive. Florida’s Quick Action Closing Fund is appropriated at $46 million, and a similar fund for Arkansas received $50 million. A 2005 report by Virginia’s Economic Development Partnership states that many of Virginia’s competitors have significant leads over Virginia in terms of primary incentive programs – North Carolina invested $171 million in combined programs; Pennsylvania invested $106 million; Georgia invested $96 million; and South Carolina invested $70 million. Virginia invested about $60 million.

Expand the use of the GOF so that more businesses and the employees they hire will benefit. We will change the GOF rules to include not just job creation and capital investment as the criteria to qualify, but we will also allow companies that generate significant additional state and local tax revenue to qualify. We will also propose lower local matches for large projects, raising the governor’s authority to $2 million per deal, and making it easier to qualify for projects in central cities and urban cores.

Job Creation Tax Credit

The Major Business Facility Job Tax Credit was created by Governor George Allen and has been successful in helping businesses expand and relocate to Virginia. The program is easily administered and was reauthorized by the 2009 General Assembly through 2020. The tax credit can be claimed by companies engaged in any business in the Commonwealth, except for retail trade business, that create at least 100 new full-time jobs in connection with the establishment or expansion of a major business facility. In the event that a major business facility is located in an economically distressed area or in an enterprise zone, the threshold is lowered to 50 jobs.

  • Bob McDonnell recognizes that not all businesses can expand by 100 employees during these tough economic times. To expand the use of this successful program and incentivize job creation, Bob McDonnell will remove the 100 job threshold and give any company that creates at least 50 jobs the $1,000 tax credit.
  • For facilities that locate in an enterprise zone or economically distressed area, we will lower the threshold from 50 to 25 jobs.
  • Also, so that more job creating facilities will be eligible for this tax credit, we will consider economically distressed area as those having unemployment rates 150% greater than the state average, to put it on par with the GOF. Currently, an area shall qualify as severely economically distressed if it is a city or county with an unemployment rate for the preceding year of at least twice the average statewide unemployment rate for such year.
  • We will propose this expansion of the tax credit for 2 years or until the economy recovers.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Business, Election 2009, Politics, State Politics

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