Go global, McAuliffe tells business leaders

RICHMOND – Gov. Terry McAuliffe emphasized the importance of reaching out to global markets and expanding Virginia’s economy in a speech Wednesday to a group of business representatives graduating from the Virginia Leaders in Export Trade program in downtown Richmond.

“Ninety-five percent of the world’s customers live outside the United States of America, so we are going where the customers are,” McAuliffe said, echoing a theme from his State of the Commonwealth address last week. “With our great Virginia businesses, I know we can do business in any country on the globe.”

The VALET program aims to do just that. Sponsored by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, it is a two-year training program to assist Virginia businesses in reaching international markets.

Global trade is crucial because Virginia’s economy has been highly dependent on federal government spending. As the No. 1 recipient of grants from the U.S. Department of Defense, Virginia was hit especially hard by the government’s sequestration cuts following the recession in 2008. Despite the return of funding, McAuliffe stressed the need to diversify Virginia’s economy to prepare for the future.

“Our whole goal is to build the new economy on trade. Our economy has weathered the first round of sequestration, but it’s coming back when the extension runs out,” McAuliffe said.

The Democratic governor also said he hoped for bipartisanship in working with the General Assembly, which is controlled by Republicans.

“I do not get involved in these petty, partisan, political battles that really don’t help grow the economy,” he said. “I do not have time for it. I am really focused on taking our economy to the next level.”


Contact Margaret Carmel at carmelml@vcu.edu.