Proposed budget funds aim to create business growth & jobs

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - By Heather Sullivan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The proposed state budget Governor Bob McDonnell is currently considering contains millions of dollars for economic growth. The aim is to increase business and jobs in the state.

Millions of dollars are in the proposed budget for things like mega-sites, the Governor's Opportunity Fund, even a Wine Promotion Fund. What are these things? Take a look.

$12 million is designated for the Governor's Opportunity Fund. The Fund provides grants and loans to help localities attract new businesses that will create more jobs.

$4.5 million is set aside for marketing to new businesses and $5 million could go to develop mega-sites. Mega-sites are large parcels of land. Having land shovel-ready is key when competing with other states for new big companies that are scouting for locations.

We asked VCU Business School Dean Dr. David Urban for his perspective on why these projects are considered important.

"You have to assume that the economy is going to turn around eventually, that companies are going to want to expand, and you want to make sure Virginia is in the front of the line," Urban said.

$1.5 million is earmarked for economic development offices in China, India, and the United Kingdom.

"The numbers of people in China and India make them markets that we cannot ignore," Urban said.

Another $3 million is for bioscience and wet lab facilities.

"If there's one thing that is going to be a crucial need over the next many years, it's the whole area of health care and innovation in the health sciences and health technology," Urban said. "If Virginia is not playing in that realm, then we are going to lose opportunities to other states that are."

Plus there's $7.2 million for tourism marketing, $2 million to recruit movies to film here, and nearly $1.5 million to help wineries promote their wines.

You might wonder how the state can afford to spend millions on these projects, while it is cutting funds for things like education and law enforcement. But analysts say economic development spending is crucial to create jobs.

"If we cut everything away, then we would not be positioning ourselves for the time when the economy will turn around. These really are long term investments that we almost have to make," Urban said.

Some of the these numbers are exactly what the Governor was hoping for, some are not quite as high as he requested. The budget is now on his desk.

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