I served as Governor of Virginia during the worst national recession in 70 years. But our unemployment rate was among the nation’s lowest, and our median income was near the top. We recruited numerous businesses (MeadWestvaco, Hilton, CSC, SAIC, VW of North America) to move their headquarters from other states to Virginia.  We also attracted significant American and international investments such as the new Rolls Royce facility in Prince George, Swedwood and Com.40 in Danville, Canon in Newport News, EDS in Mecklenburg County, and Orbital Sciences on the Eastern Shore. And we were named the “Best State for Business” in America four years in a row by  Clearly, Virginia is doing something right.

But our economic recovery cannot rely only on large businesses. Small businesses and their owners remain the innovators and backbone of our economy.  Since two out of three new jobs are created by a small business, I want to find ways to support the entrepreneurs and risk takers.  As Governor, I increased the percentage of state contracts issued to small, women-owned, and minority-owned businesses from 13% to 40%.  My administration also launched a “Business One Stop” portal to make it easier for Virginians to start a small business.

As America works to grow an economy that is still too fragile, we need to learn lessons from Virginia’s success. We have pursued four important strategies and they have moved the Virginia economy from back of the pack to front of the pack over the last several decades.