Terry McAuliffe today unveiled his new “Building a thriving rural economy” plan to prioritize rural communities in Virginia.
As governor, McAuliffe is committed to bringing economic opportunity to rural communities across the Commonwealth and bringing every Virginian online by the end of his term.
In the plan, McAuliffe pledges to partner with President Biden’s administration to create Virginia’s first intentional rural economic development center through a new pilot project, spurring long-term sustainable economic growth in critical areas. of the Commonwealth.
The plan also calls for establishing Virginia’s rural communities as East Coast energy innovation capitals, investing in crumbling school infrastructure, and supporting Virginia farmers.
Rural Virginia is home to Virginia’s biggest industry — agriculture and forestry — providing 440,000 jobs and more than $90 billion a year in economic benefits. The once thriving manufacturing and industrial centers of rural Virginia communities have been hit hard in recent decades as manufacturing industries disappeared and the Great Recession eliminated jobs that never returned.
Virginians living in rural communities experience lower wages and a lack of infrastructure such as broadband that people need to seek economic opportunity. Virginia’s rural health care infrastructure is chronically underfunded and only 8% of Virginia doctors practice in rural areas.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated these inequalities, reversing progress made in addressing the opioid epidemic that had already disproportionately affected rural Virginians.
“In rural Virginia, when we talk about broadband, education, health care, and the economy, all of these issues are interconnected. These days, it’s almost impossible to get a job or an education without access to the internet, which is why we need a holistic approach in our post-COVID recovery that’s big and bold,” McAuliffe said. “As governor, we’re going to make sure rural Virginia leads the way. when it comes to universal broadband, clean energy jobs and 21st century agricultural technology. But that’s still not enough. We need to make rural health care and education equitable by reinvesting in those systems alongside to telehealth, virtual education, and job training. It’s time to take Virginia’s rural economy to the next level, and we will.