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When the 5th district sent me to Washington, I knew my number one responsibility was job creation and economic development. So I went to those who work every day on the ground to create jobs: the elected leaders and economic developers in every locality across the Fifth District. What I heard was that there are no quick fixes to our economic challenges. Quick fixes don’t produce the sustained job growth we need.
What our area needs, according to those around the district who know best, is to rebuild our competitive advantage over other parts of the country and the world. This means 21st century infrastructure, a highly skilled workforce, and a taxation and regulatory environment that allow businesses to thrive. For nearly two years, I have worked a double shift to deliver the tools our communities need to create jobs in the private sector. I want to build on our proud history of agriculture, textiles, and manufacturing to create a vibrant economy around new energy, high-tech manufacturing, and the next generation of farmers and foresters. Simply put: an economy around the people who build, make, and grow things in America.
Significant investments have been made in the infrastructure we will need to outcompete China and India. Broadband access is spreading through nearly all counties in Central and Southern Virginia so entrepreneurs can start a business from home. We are also making investments in rail and roads, like the Robertson Bridge in Danville, and airports, like the runway extension in Charlottesville, and water treatment plants, like the new facility in Halifax, all of which are moving forward with federal investments I secured.
I have fought to give middle class families and small business tax relief during these tough times. USA Today found that taxes in 2009 were at their lowest level since 1950 largely because one third of the Recovery Act, or stimulus bill, was the largest middle class tax cut in American history. Unfortunately, Congress adjourned without extending the middle class tax cuts that are scheduled to expire. I strongly support extending these middle class tax cuts and voted against adjournment.
I have also cut 17 different taxes on small businesses. We must reward the innovation of small businesses instead of rewarding the failure of large corporations through bailouts. I voted to repeal new IRS reporting requirements on small businesses, but Republicans in Congress blocked that effort because they decided making a partisan point was more important than offering real assistance to small businesses.
I have helped bring $133.2 million into our K-12 schools, keeping teachers in the classroom, keeping class sizes manageable, and preventing massive hikes on property taxes. This Congress has also enacted the largest overhaul of college financing in a generation, making the dream of higher education affordable for millions of families.
And all of these efforts are starting to show results. Last week I helped announce that U.S. Green Energy Company will locate in Danville/Pittsylvania County and create 372 good-paying jobs manufacturing solar power equipment. Microsoft cited broadband infrastructure as a major reason they are investing $500 million in Mecklenburg County. Monogram Foods in Martinsville is hiring 150 new workers with help from a $6 million federally backed loan. And in Danville, the Goodyear plant is now at full employment.
I see evidence that our economy is slowly starting to turn the corner. These remain difficult times, and our recovery is slow and fragile, but it is not the time to sit back and wait for the rest of the county and world to pass us by. The next generation of jobs is going to be created right here in Central and Southern Virginia because we have the workers, the infrastructure, and the leaders to outcompete, out-innovate, and outwork anyone.
Please feel free to contact me to share your concerns and ideas. You may call 1-888-4-TOM4US (1-888-486-6487); write to 1520 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515; or visit www.perriello.house.gov to sign up for my weekly e-newsletter.