Governor Terry McAuliffe came to Virginia Tech on Wednesday to unveil a plan to strengthen the state’s economy by expanding educational opportunities and workforce development in for K-12 and community college students.
The main proposals included expanding access to virtual education by requiring each school division to provide a free, full-time virtual learning option to students in grades K-12, community colleges having policies and procedures in place for awarding college credits for apprenticeship related instruction and expanding the pool of recipients eligible for the Virginia Community College System’s Foster Care tuition grant program.
After the press conference, McAuliffe went to the Hokie House restaurant where he discussed the upcoming budget, the local economy and bipartisanship.
McAuliffe maintained that K-12 education will not see any cuts in the upcoming budget, and that public universities will see a five percent cut as opposed to the 7.5 percent cut that he had previously announced.
While the governor did not mention any specific companies coming to the NRV, he said that agreements with companies like the Italian auto parts manufacturer ELDOR Corporation, which announced the opening of a factory in Botetourt County that will create 500 jobs, will encourage companies to come to the state, and possibly the area, in the future.
McAuliffe said there is also a huge opportunity for future advanced manufacturing because of Virginia Tech and the work it is doing with automated vehicles and unmanned drones.
“Those are things that should be made here,” he said.
McAuliffe said that the cheap energy that will result with the completion of the Atlantic Coast pipeline would spark manufacturing growth all over the entire state, and would allow Virginia to be competitive with China and other countries as a manufacturing destination for corporations.
According to McAuliffe, there are thousands of high-paying cyber security jobs in the state that are open, so making sure the skills needed for those jobs are taught in K-12 and community colleges is important to the area as well.
McAuliffe acknowledged that making sure there is accessible high speed internet everywhere in the region could bring some of those jobs to the area. He said that he is awaiting the results of a study he commissioned last year on Internet accessibility in the state before moving forward with any concrete plans, but that he has been in contact with providers like Verizon, and is also researching alternative ways to make internet accessible everywhere in Virginia.
Coming across the aisle and working with Republicans is something the Democratic governor said that he has prided himself on, particularly when it comes to issues of public safety and growing the economy.
He said that he is not interested in dealing with legislation that would make corporations not do business in the state like anti-woman and anti-LGBTQ legislation.
“I try to stress to everybody ‘don’t waste your time on these socially divisive issues,’” he said.