Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Gov. Kaine after GCC Stafford Center ribbon-cutting: 'Talent is the most valuable asset. Workforce is now the most important thing.'

Stafford Economic Development Authority Chairman Don Newlin, Gov. Tim Kaine and GCC President David A. Sam cut the ribbon to open the new Germanna Stafford Center

When Gov. Tim Kaine cut the ribbon to open Germanna’s new Stafford Center Wednesday, he said Virginia is rated the state best positioned to rebound from recession in part because of community colleges like GCC.

Kaine said he’s counting on GCC and rest of the Virginia Community College System to help the Old Dominion recover from the recession -–and to give its workforce an edge going forward.

“Community colleges play an important role, especially in a challenged economy,” Kaine told a crowd at the opening of the Center.

He said Virginia has been rated the state best positioned to rebound not just because of a positive business climate, but because of the competitiveness of its workers.

And when it comes to companies deciding where to relocate, the quality of Virginia’s workforce is key, Kaine said.

“Whatever the price of oil is, talent is the most valuable asset,” Kaine said. “Workforce is now the most important thing,” and community colleges play a vital role in educating and training Virginia’s workers to keep them competitive in the global economy. “Nothing else is even a close second.”

The fourth Germanna location--which has four state of the art classrooms, computer labs, and office space--is expected to offer 52 classes this fall and serve approximately 1,000 students.

The Center is a partnership between GCC and Stafford Economic Development Authority, which has invested $300,000 over three years to promote economic development through Workforce training. The center will also meet anticipated needs associated with the BRAC expansion at Quantico and the new Stafford Hospital Center. It’s located at Aquia Park, just south of the intersection of U.S. 1 and State Route 610 in North Stafford, which is one of the fastest-growing and congested areas in the region.

The governor said he doesn’t have a crystal ball when it comes to economic forecasting, but added, “We are seeing some positive signs,” including improvement in the housing market, “but I don’t yet call them trends.”

He said that while areas within commuting distance of Washington like Culpeper and the Fredericksburg area are feeling the impact of the economic downturn, they will be shielded from the worst of it.

“The world will always beat a path to the broad region that surrounds the nation’s capital,” Kaine said.

Germanna has experienced state budget cuts totaling 15 percent, with another soon to come, during a two-year period when it has been the fastest-growing college in Virginia.

But GCC President David A. Sam said opening the Stafford Center during lean times signals Germanna’s commitment to help the area bounce back from tough times and help build a new prosperity.

“This area needs us in bad times and in good,” Sam said. “We promise that, no matter what happens, we will try to meet the needs of our area’s students, parents and businesses.”