Governor Terry McAuliffe spoke to members of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce in Manassas yesterday.
Held at the Hylton Performing Arts Center, the luncheon was a “State of the Commonwealth” address, and gave McAuliffe time to speak about his accomplishments and priorities in the areas of business and economic development.
“We’re in great shape today. Three and a half years ago, when I ran for Governor, I said, ‘We’ve got to build a new Virginia economy. We have to do things differently’…I’m proud to stand here today – and we’re a different state today,” said McAuliffe.
In addition to unemployment numbers and claims hitting a record 44-year low, McAuliffe spoke about how Virginia is now the number one state in the country for the cybersecurity industry, with 685 cybersecurity companies operational, and more data centers than any other state.
Coinciding with McAuliffe’s focus on cybersecurity was technological innovation in the way of autonomous vehicles and drones.
“I always say, ‘I want a drone in every home and I want them all to say Made in Virginia,’” said McAuliffe.
McAuliffe that he recently went on an unmanned drone flight, and launched some drone delivery projects.
“We are one of seven FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) sites in the country, which is really great for what we’re going to do in the future…we’re building 55 miles of new roads, all with a new autonomous sensor, so that we can capture all of this new, what I call ‘the 21st century jobs,’” said McAuliffe.
Building Virginia’s economy came up in the context of the state’s education system as well.
“We are now completely redesigning our K through 12 system. High schools in America do not work anymore, they don’t. They were built for the Industrial Revolution…now we’re transforming,” said McAuliffe.
To update the state’s education system, McAuliffe said that cybersecurity lessons will begin with students starting in elementary schools, and job training, internships, and credentialing will become a bigger component of student’s high school years.
Two of the many things McAuliffe has become known for in his administration are his trade missions and his vetoing of bills from the Virginia General Assembly.
“90% of the world’s customers live outside of the United States of America – so we go where the customers are,” said McAuliffe.
Using Nestle’s recent move of their headquarters to Reston, McAuliffe made the case that some of the bills he’s vetoed were rejected because of their impact on the business community.
“I also have the record for the most vetoes of any Governor in Virginia history. I continuously told the General Assembly, ‘If you send me a bill that discriminates against women, LGBT members, hurts our environment, puts more needles and guns on the street, or rolls back voting rights I will veto it’ and they kept sending me crazy bills…you cannot grow an economy…if you discriminate,” said McAuliffe.