McDonnell: 'Best news in seven years'

April 12, 2011

By BULLETIN STAFF REPORTS - Bulletin Staff Writer

Gov. Bob McDonnell called Monday’s announcement of the expansion of ICF International and its creation of 539 jobs in Henry County “the best news in seven years.”

“It is so great to be here and talk about this,” McDonnell said of the project that he anticipates will be “transformational” for the community because it will offer residents the “opportunity to be self-sufficient and pursue the American dream.”

That is especially true for the 539 families who will be directly impacted by employment, he said.

By comparison, a total of 605 jobs were announced in this area last year.

Fairfax-based ICF will invest $15 million in an operations center in the Patriot Centre and create 539 jobs over the next 36 months, it announced Monday. McDonnell, whose administration helped bring the company here, joined company officials in making the announcement.

With an unemployment rate statewide of 6 percent, McDonnell said the commonwealth is recovering from the recession and remains the best state in the nation to do business.

However, he said 250,000 workers across the state still are out of work, which he called “unacceptable.”

“We know we have got to get aggressive if we are going to see more companies expand” or locate to Virginia, McDonnell said.

Martinsville-Henry County and some other communities in Southside have been in “the epicenter of the economic downturn,” he said.

He praised local residents for enduring the last decade or more of that downturn while continuing to work to make the community a “great place to do business.”

But, he added, this is not the time to relax. He reiterated that job creation and economic development have been his top priority during his 15 months in office.

“We’ve got to get very aggressive this year” as the economy transitions from manufacturing to services and technology, he said.

He soon will travel to New York, California and Illinois and also is planning trips abroad to China, Japan and India, McDonnell said.

He also said he has probably more economic development tools than ever, such as more money in the Governor’s Opportunity Fund, and several of his cabinet officials and appointees are working hands-on to do create jobs.

Heath said when the governor called ICF’s announcement the “best news in seven years,” he was referring to the jobs announcement of MasterBrand Cabinets in 2004 that it would move here and create 745 jobs.

However, it did not create that many, making ICF’s plans even more significant, Heath said.

Heath said hiring will target a 50-mile radius and will include former workers of American Express in the Piedmont Triad area of North Carolina, some of whom live in this area.


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