Economic Development in the 6th District is my number one priority. Carroll, Smyth and Wythe counties have suffered from the effects of NAFTA with plant closures in the woodworking and textile industries. Redevelopment efforts have been slow in most places as a result of a lack of discretionary money available to the localities. As a result our county governments have been forced to rely on the referrals we get from the economic development authorities in Richmond. Historically, the more promising prospects have been directed to the more affluent and politically influential areas of the Commonwealth. The lack of local money available to market and recruit directly to the industrial sector has tilted the scales in favor of the urban regions of the Commonwealth. I have proposed, and will continue to advocate for legislation, that would appropriate more discretionary money for localities to hire industrial recruiters and economic development professionals to level the playing field with other areas of the Commonwealth.
Additionally, the 6th District needs more money from the Commonwealth for training our workforce in the skill sets necessary to attract high paying, high tech jobs in the 21st Century.
Lastly, our economic development efforts must contain a focal aspect in agribusiness. We are blessed with some of the most rich and fertile farms anywhere in the Commonwealth. Our farmers need more diversity in their marketplaces to become profitable once again. I support legislation that will promote the efforts of our local farmers and discourage unnecessary over regulation that stifles growth both within the 6th District and abroad. Agribusiness ranks number one in Virginia’s economy in terms of gross domestic product. We need to capture as much of this opportunity as we can and we are naturally positioned to do so.
When I was first elected to council in Saltville in 1998, our town suffered from massive unemployment and economic decline. We had five empty industrial buildings. I made a promise to fill those buildings when I asked for the people’s vote of confidence in electing me. I am proud to say that when I left office twelve years later that all of those buildings were filled and we had created hundreds of jobs for our locality. I make that same solemn promise to the citizens of the 6th District. I will work tirelessly and endlessly to bring good paying jobs and tax base to our region and I will not quit until every citizen of the 6th District who wants a job can have one.