The last time Virginia businessman and fundraiser extraordinaire Terry McAuliffe came to Roanoke, he was accompanied by former President Bill Clinton. Clinton was speaking for the then gubernatorial candidate at a rally on behalf of McAuliffe’s 2009 bid for Virginia governor. On Tuesday, McAuliffe returned to the Star City to hold an economic roundtable made up of about 50 local area businesswomen and community leaders to discuss issues that lay ahead for Virginia.
Talking points at the meeting highlighted connections between education, transportation and government policies, with an emphasis on stimulating job growth in Southwest and Southside Virginia. McAuliffe said, “We are missing business opportunities in this area and all kinds of money is being invested into Northern Virginia — well what about the rest of the state?”
Although McAuliffe was unsuccessful last year in receiving his party’s nomination, he has continued to stay active across the state, with meetings similar to the gathering Tuesday at Montano’s Restaurant.
His recent undertakings have included a bid for a Southside paper mill which McAuliffe hopes to convert to a biomass energy power plant, estimated to create about 1,000 jobs. McAuliffe, a proponent of new energy solutions, has also expanded on his promise to “move Virginia forward in green power and to preserve and create jobs” when GreenTech Automotive, a company that McAuliffe sits as chairman, purchased Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer EuAuto Technology Ltd. The move is speculated to bring anywhere from 4,000 to 4,500 jobs to Virginia, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
During the luncheon, McAuliffe reiterated his promises to diversify Virginia’s energy portfolio, saying, “What I’m not able to do as governor, I’m still doing as a private citizen.” In fact, The Appalachia America Energy Research Center reached out to McAuliffe as well as to Delegate Terry Kilgore, R-Gate City, to help explore new energy job opportunities in Southwest Virginia. McAuliffe was quoted by the Kingsport Times News as saying “I always think very big; it is my pleasure to serve on the Appalachia America Energy Research Center’s advisory board seeking to bring new energy jobs to the coalfields of Southwestern Virginia.”
After the meeting, 6th District Committee Chair and Roanoke native Linda Wyatt had high hopes for the area. “Terry has good ideas for what we need to do to revitalize the Virginia energy industry and this will hopefully kick start Southside and Southwest Virginia. We have been overlooked for a long time and it’s good to see some people are bringing big plans and big ideas to the table for our region.”By John Mobley [email protected]