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Davis seeks tech job 'synergy' in Virginia
Ex-delegate running for lieutenant governor
Henry County GOP chairman W.C. Fowlkes (left) talks with lieutenant governor hopeful Jeannemarie Davis on Thursday at the Dutch Inn in Collinsville. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
Friday, November 16, 2012
By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer
A former state senator said Thursday that if she is elected lieutenant governor, one of her goals will be to help create jobs in rural areas such as Martinsville.
Jeannemarie Davis, R-Vienna, said that her goal “is to create a synergy between the Northern Virginia IT (information technology) community and the rural areas, which, through appropriate workforce training and tele-work, I believe can create many new jobs” in rural areas such as Martinsville, which has the highest unemployment in the state.
Davis, who has served in Gov. Bob McDonnell’s administration, announced Wednesday that she is seeking the Republican Party’s nomination to run for lieutenant governor. On Thursday, she made a stop in Collinsville as part of a campaign swing around the state to launch her candidacy.
She told several people gathered at the Dutch Inn that new ideas are needed to supplement the current economic development approach of diversifying the business base and attracting companies that create 50 or 100 jobs, she said.
For instance, “tele-work is an option,” Davis said, and noted there are 30,000 job openings in northern areas of Virginia.
She recalled that when Gov. Jim Gilmore was elected, he created the Secretary of Technology post. That secretary then set up a commission, which met regularly to discuss various issues.
Commission members also were assigned different localities to build relations with, and they were in the process of discussing how to integrate information and technology in rural regions, she said.
“That was in 1998 or 1999” and before there was connectivity other than broadband, she said. “Now, with wi-fi, we’re more connected, and I think that infrastructure issue is a nonissue.”
Using the community college as “a workforce training center,” Davis said students could earn a degree but also could earn a certificate, which is “less time-consuming” and also prepares them for work.
With that training and the Internet infrastructure, tele-work is even more of a possibility, she said.
“If you have that unmet need in northern Virginia, then you have people in rural areas” who can be trained to do the work and the right infrastructure in place, she said job-creating synergy can result.
But, Davis said, “it’s not a short-term solution. It will take time.”
She noted that she had a 100 percent pro-business record in the Senate “and will strive to continue my work in that area” if elected to statewide office.
That work includes transportation, which “is an extremely important issue for those who live in the urban crescent, as traffic gridlock grows worse and worse,” Davis said. “I continue to believe that a regional approach is warranted, as each region is unique.”
Until mentioned by a member of the audience, Davis said she was not aware of the situation with Interstate 73.
A study several years ago found the new interstate was needed to help position Martinsville and Henry County for economic growth, but so far, there is no funding for the project that would stretch from Michigan to North Carolina.
Davis said that while transportation is not in the purview of the lieutenant governor, she would work to “bring the people together that you need to bring together” to try and find solutions. “The bottom line is there’s just so much energy” and funds to go around.
With a resume that includes six years in the House of Delegates, where Davis was elected majority whip; four years in the state Senate; and, “most recently, serving on Gov. McDonnell’s cabinet as the director of the Virginia Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, in Washington D.C.,” Davis said she is qualified for the job.
“My work in the state legislative and executive branches, my deep understanding of how the federal and state governments are intertwined, and my work in the private sector as a partner in a small technology consulting firm, along with raising four daughters, have allowed me to garner a breadth of experience that I believe make me uniquely qualified to serve,” she said. “I believe that in each of these roles, I have proven myself to be an effective leader with the conservative values that can help move Virginia forward.”
In the end, Davis said she believes her “candidacy offers the ideal mix of fighting for the two things most important to Virginia families — their values and their pocketbooks.
If successful in her bid, “I will always put principles above politics and the welfare of Virginia’s people above the next election. I’ve proven this with my legislative record, which includes a 100 percent small business rating and 100 percent rating in defending life,” she said.
The Republican Party will choose its 2013 candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general at a May convention.