The ACP and Virginia’s economic future
Published 11:20 am Thursday, December 6, 2018
Virginia’s economy has been at the top of news headlines in recent weeks. With Amazon’s new headquarters making its way to Arlington County, Virginia seems set to see major economic growth in the coming years.
Northern Virginia, that is.
In a state like Virginia, our economies are distinctly divided between urban and rural, with much of the attention focused on our D.C. suburbs and midsize cities. Economic development in rural counties is often pushed to the backburner. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline offers the opportunity for Virginia to look at the entirety of its economy and prioritize an industry that benefits every corner of the state, not just the large dots on the map.
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As an early advocate for the access to natural gas, Virginia’s Growth Alliance, headquartered in Keysville, has voiced their strong support of the ACP. Our efforts to bring new jobs and investment to Southside are being stonewalled due to the fact that most of the region is not served by natural gas. Our member communities are being eliminated before receiving a fair evaluation.
The ACP will travel about 204 miles through the region, opening the possibility for natural gas for the first time in our history. This has the potential to be a game changer for our communities. Our next step will be our efforts to ensure affordable access to the pipeline to serve future economic development.
Our oil and natural gas industries currently support more than 125,000 jobs through $7 billion in wages. These jobs range from construction to manufacturing to sales, providing good wages and stable futures, especially to rural Virginia. The industry contributes nearly $12 billion to the statewide economy.
Knowing the value of the industry makes the Atlantic Coast Pipeline a no brainer. Stretching through Southeast and Southwest, the pipeline will bring immediate jobs to non-urban areas. With the heart of the line passing through Virginia, counties like Brunswick, Buckingham and Nelson will directly benefit from the 17,000 additional jobs expected in the region.
In the long term, the pipeline means a secure and stable energy future for all of Virginia. Currently, our energy grid is exceeding the system’s capacity. The pipeline will ensure Virginians all across the state have affordable and reliable access to energy. With an estimated $377 million in consumer energy savings annually, Virginians can expect more money in their wallet at the end of each month.
With additional jobs, steady wages, and money saved, we can also anticipate the pipeline’s positive benefits to our business economy. Well-paid jobs mean consumers more willing to eat out at a local restaurant or put a down payment on a car. Small businesses along Main Street will encounter a dependable economic climate, along with affordable energy options. A win-win that will pay dividends to our economy.
Investment in our energy infrastructure gives Virginia the opportunity to look to the future. While our state is reaping the benefits of a strong national economy, our elected officials have to look toward economic development projects that benefit our entire state in the long-term. Rural Virginia deserves the same attention as our peers in the north. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline means jobs for our residents, savings for our businesses, and stability for our communities.
Our elected officials in D.C. should prioritize the pipeline and work with federal regulatory authorities to ensure its completion. The project offers the unique opportunity to focus on rural economies while providing widespread benefits to our entire state.
We should all be excited about the prospect of Virginia’s future. It is our responsibility to look at economic development that benefits each of our residents, though. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline gives us that chance.
JEFFREY REED is the executive director of the Virginia Growth Alliance. Virginia’s Growth Alliance is a regional marketing organization that serves the counties of Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Greensville, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, Prince Edward and the City of Emporia. He can be reached via email at Jeff@VAGrowth.com.