We are currently recovering from the worse economic downturn since the Great Depression.  This event has strained localities, resulted in home foreclosures, forced cuts in services and the maintenance of our roads, tunnels, and bridges, and made growing unemployment a harsh reality.  With a civilian labor force of over 70,000 and an unemployment rate of 7.3% (2009) the City of Hampton faces critical challenges, but our location, local assets, and access to stable industries have made us privileged to opportunity.  I will continue my endeavor to expand those opportunities by assisting small and minority businesses and creating jobs through rebuilding our infrastructure.

Small and Minority Business

Firms with under 500 employees represent 99.7% of all employer firms and employ just over half of all private sector employees.  Small businesses pay 44% of total U.S. private payroll and have generated 64% of net new jobs over the past 15 years.  They are vital to returning strength to the economy and developing our communities.  That is why I support the Virginia Jobs Investment Program (VJIP). This initiative offers three programs for new and existing businesses, in addition to a worker retraining program.  Through my efforts, and the work of my colleagues in the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, the Commonwealth of Virginia completed a Procurement Disparity Study detailing the impact of Virginia’s support of small minority businesses and what can be done to improve the health of minority businesses.  As your Delegate, I will continue to champion the cause of small business development.

Creating Jobs Through Rebuilding Infrastructure

Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Virginia received a total of $694.5 million in highway funding.  $117.8 million of this funding will be for projects selected by the state’s five large urban metropolitan planning organizations.  $100.6 million is targeted to improve or replace 122 structurally deficient and functionally obsolete bridges and culverts.  $146.4 million is targeted toward repaving or overlaying 609 lane miles of highway and primary roads in Virginia.  $91.3 million is targeted to fund necessary improvements near expanding military installations supporting 21,400 jobs.  $61.7 million is targeted to improve Virginia’s rail network and access to the neighboring Port of Virginia.  $20.8 million is targeted to be used for enhancement projects.  Finally, $175 million is targeted to advance much-needed congestion-relief projects including building 100 lane miles of new roadway.  Through my work as the ranking member of the House Committee on Transportation, I will make certain that Hampton Roads realizes its fair share of job opportunities provided by ARRA infrastructure projects.