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Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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McAuliffe vows to work for job creation if elected
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Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe (right) talks to Tommy Houston, owner of The Checkered Pig restaurants in Martinsville and Danville, Monday at the Martinsville location. McAuliffe said he will make work more attractive to residents after Houston noted that he has trouble getting employees for his restaurants. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

From Bulletin staff reports

Virginia’s next governor must focus on diversifying the state’s economy, according to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe.

He believes he is the candidate to do that.

While visiting Martinsville on Monday, McAuliffe said if he is elected on Nov. 5, he will “go all over the globe and urge people to move their businesses to Virginia.”

He will work to attract as many types of businesses as he can to the state, he said.

Having a well-educated workforce is important to attracting businesses, according to McAuliffe, a former Democratic National Committee chairman.

He said he would push STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) courses in public schools and work to revamp state Standards of Learning exams because “teachers are teaching to the tests.”

Multiple choice tests do not adequately reflect what students learn, he said.

McAuliffe said he supports the growth and development of the New College Institute (NCI) in Martinsville.

Asked whether he would favor NCI becoming a branch campus of a partner university or even a stand-alone university, McAuliffe said it would not be up to him to determine the institute’s future. Rather, he said he would listen to the public’s ideas on how it should evolve.

McAuliffe said he would work with Virginia’s community colleges to improve workforce training programs. He said he would strive to convince companies to go into public schools, let students know the skills they will need to work for the firms and inform them about how they can obtain those skills.

The sooner that students can start preparing to enter the workforce, the better, he indicated.

“There is a great workforce here” in Virginia, including Henry County and Martinsville, McAuliffe said.

However, he acknowledged it is not perfect.

After visiting Martinsville lawyer Ward Armstrong, a fellow Democrat and former House minority leader, McAuliffe and his wife, Dorothy, went by Checkered Pig to pick up some barbecue sandwiches.

While there, he talked with the restaurant’s owner, Tommy Houston, about problems that Houston faces in hiring employees.

“We need help,” especially full-time workers, Houston said, “but nobody’s coming in the door” to apply for jobs.

Part of the reason, he said, is that he can afford to pay only $8 to $10 an hour. He indicated that many people want at least between $10 and $12.

In terms of putting forth the effort to learn skills and do the labor involved, Houston stated, “if you want to work, I can teach you how to do anything in this (barbecue restaurant) business.”

Still, “a lot of these people (locally) are unhirable,” he said, because “they don’t want to work” or think they will be better off staying on government assistance funds.

People must get excited about working again, McAuliffe said.

Now 56, he recalled that he began working when he was 14 — he started a business sealing driveways and parking lots — because he needed money for college.

On another issue, McAuliffe said he supports improving Virginia’s highways to reduce congestion and help with economic development. That includes completing the widening of U.S. 58 to four lanes.

He pledged to work with Republicans as well as Democrats to get things accomplished in Richmond.

McAuliffe spoke briefly and spontaneously while visiting Checkered Pig. He walked through the restaurant and shook hands with some customers and employees. Houston showed him the barbecue smoker and cooker.

Also there was former state attorney general Mary Sue Terry, who lives in Patrick County. She said she has no plans to re-enter politics.

 

 
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