RICHMOND, Va. — Despite facing controversies at the capitol for nearly three months, Gov. Ralph Northam and his team are touting major successes in bringing businesses and jobs to the Commonwealth.
In the first 16 months of his term, Northam’s administration as attracted 305 projects and expansions to the Commonwealth that’s expected to bring in $15.8 billion of capital investments and more than 48,000 new jobs.
Gov. Northam called it a “milestone.”
“Close to $2 billion of that is in distressed communities across Virginia, a lot of them being in rural areas,” Gov. Northam said. “I want to make sure that every Virginian has a job.”
About half of these jobs are expected to come from Amazon’s new headquarters opening in Northern Virginia.
According to a release shared with reporters at the Wednesday press conference, these capital investments are much higher than any of the past six administrations. Figures from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) show McAuliffe created just more than 23,000 jobs and nearly $4.5 billion in capital investments. Gov. Jim Gilmore created more jobs by April of the second year of his term, about 56,000, along with $5.56 billion of capital investments.
A request was put into VEDP for a month to month break down of new jobs and investment figures of Gilmore, McAuliffe and Northam. When that information is available, we will provide an update.
The governor and lawmakers treated the day as business as usual despite months of controversy after a racist photograph was found in Northam’s Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook in February.
“How many of these investments came in before February 1?” Capitol Bureau Reporter Sara McCloskey asked the governor during the press conference.
“Well, the investments that I referred to, the jobs and the $15.8 billion are since I was inaugurated on January the 11 of 2018, so this is collectively over 16 months,” Gov. Northam replied.
Gov. Northam also signed five bills aimed at boosting economic development. One of them was sponsored by Del. Matthew James (D-District 80), which reauthorizes two grant programs that give incentives to companies expanding or moving to Virginia, as well as provides job training.
“It’s not just about the money. It’s also about what the incentives do,” Del. James explained. “Those programs also fund workforce development activities so the companies can make sure when they expand or locate that their employees, future employees or current employees, are trained to the capacity that they can be productive.”
One company that’s seen the benefits from the programs in Del. James’ district of Portsmouth is Preferred Freezer Services. The company announced last month its plans to open a new plant, a $60 million investment. There’s currently a plant in Chesapeake.
Northam noted that there’s still “more work to be done” in distressed communities in rural and urban areas, like where he is from on the Eastern Shore.