Virginia Firms Lose Out Again

Hard on the heels of Governor McDonnell’s numerous comments regarding job creation here in Virginia, I read with interest that a reactor technology had been decided upon for proposed use in the possible construction of a new power generation unit at North Anna. Until I read the purchase was to be made from a foreign firm. So let me just get this straight. The state’s largest regulated electric utility, providing power to 2.3 million Virginia customers, is purchasing reactor technology from whom? Not from a Virginia company, no, not even from a U.S. company, the purchased technology is from a Japanese firm! While a strong independent business and competitive bidding advocate, I was appalled nonetheless. Am I missing something here?

Since the Tobacco Indemnification Fund was created, plus other state and federal financial largess, Virginia has been buying, I mean enticing, business throughout Republican and Democratic administrations. And while every business shouldn’t have to consult with state representatives prior to commencing relocation or expansion projects, state regulated monopolies have, or should have, a responsibility, in my opinion, to give the state the courtesy of a ‘heads-up’ when millions/billions/trillions of investment dollars are at stake. According to utility sources, no contract has yet been signed, so where in the world was/is the brand new Commonwealth Economic Development Fund committee and what are they doing? Possibly, like the state’s IT project, this project is also too large, or too complicated, or too something for any Virginia firm or consortium to manage and would obviously be more effectively administered by a really large global firm.

Letter after letter has exhorted public officials to direct, force if you wish, government entities and large industries to locate and use Virginia firms first, all to no avail. Apparently I need some guidance with my logic: Virginia firms, who pay Virginia taxes, grow and in turn hire Virginia employees, who in turn pay Virginia taxes and support local and state-wide business ventures of every stripe, who in turn also pay Virginia taxes and support many philanthropic activities, who in turn …, but it all starts with job creation. And yes, it is very nice and a real boon for many in the state to attract a 300-job call center operation or a gigantic defense contractor’s headquarters. But what about on-going growth opportunities within Virginia’s professional engineering, architectural, and related communities? Must I highlight what seems so obvious, Virginia’s projects, paid for by Virginia’s taxpayers, should be done by Virginia’s professionals.

My question: Why, sir, are we not utilizing these resources to their fullest potential?

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