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Bolling Promises He'll Follow Up On Projects

FARMVILLE — Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling came to town Friday looking for specific ways he could help the Prince Edward community’s economic development efforts, and he got what he was looking for.
“You all really did exactly what we wanted you to…because what you’ve really enabled us to do is come away with (several) specific things here that we can follow up on at the state level to see what we can do to help,” Bolling said at the conclusion of the meeting, held in the Town Manager’s Conference Room in the Farmville Town Hall. The Herald was invited to attend the meeting by the lieutenant governor’s office.
Among the items included on the lieutenant governor’s follow-up list are the Granite Falls Inn and Conference Center project and upgrades/improvements to the Town of Farmville’s water system.
The lieutenant governor was also apprised of Prince Edward County’s consideration of the best use of the Sandy River Reservoir as a local, and perhaps regional, source of drinking water.
“Whether it’s just open up doors…or specifically follow through and see on the status of a grant application…we will follow up on all these things,” Bolling promised.
Accompanying the lieutenant governor from Richmond were Mary Rae Carter, Deputy Secretary for Rural Economic Development, Liz Povar, with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, and Ibbie Hedrick, McDonnell’s director of communications and his Business Community Liaison.
“This is exactly what we’re looking for. If we can have these meetings with local communities and come out with a list of half a dozen things to help follow up on,” Bolling reiterated. “You all did exactly what we hoped you would do, giving us some practical strategies.”
The meeting was also attended by approximately one dozen local individuals, including Prince Edward County Administrator Wade Bartlett, PE’s economic development director, Sharon Carney, two members of the Board of Supervisors, and Town of Farmville Planner Cindy Morris.
The lieutenant governor had several other similar economic development meetings in the region scheduled later in the day on Friday and he stressed the McDonnell Administration’s pledge to pay close attention to rural economic development needs.
“One of the things that Gov. McDonnell and I promised during our campaign is that we wanted to have a deputy secretary of commerce and trade that was specifically focused on rural economic development,” Bolling said of Ms. Carter. “I will tell you that the truth is the governor is very focused on rural economic development. I’m very focused on rural economic development.
“I am probably spending more of my time in rural parts of Virginia trying to promote jobs creation than in any other part of the state. But we wanted somebody on a daily basis that was out there working with people…on a daily basis that was focused on rural economic development,” he explained, “so we brought Mary Rae on board…”
Lt. Gov. Bolling told the group, which also including several business people, such as the Granite Falls project’s point man, Bob Fowler, and representation from the Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce and Hampden-Sydney College, that “when we say ‘We’re from the government and we want to help you’ we don’t want it to be a punch line. We want it to be serious. We want to mean it. Part of that is having relationships so that other people know what we’re doing.”
Bolling said one of the things he has discovered is there are many things done by state government to assist businesses that businesses don’t know about because the Commonwealth has not done a very good job marketing those programs.
And he solicited local input into the McDonnell administration’s efforts.
“Any problems that you’re having with state government. Anything you can think of that we’re not doing to help you do a better job getting the economy moving here and create jobs, we want to know what you’re ideas are,” he told them.
“Let us know what those things are,” Bolling said, “because what happens in government, and I think it’s true whether you’re in Richmond or Washington or you’re here in Farmville…sometimes you get insulated, you get so wrapped up in what’s going on in Richmond or Washington, or even at the local courthouse, that you fail, sometimes, to look beyond that and figure out what’s the implications of what you’re doing to people in the real world.
“Washington is not the real world. The capitol (Richmond) is not the real world. Farmville’s the real world,” the lieutenant governor continued. “Don’t think that we know what’s helping or what’s hurting, because many times we don’t…
“I can’t guarantee you that we’ll fix it,” he pledged, “but I guarantee you that we’ll try.”