Del. Ken Plum: Building a New Economy

by Del. Ken Plum October 12, 2017 at 10:15 am 26 Comments

This is a commentary from Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

Candidate Terry McAuliffe promised during his campaign for governor that he would work to build a new economy in Virginia. A reduction of federal spending in the state along with the decline of traditional mining and manufacturing jobs had left the Virginia economy sluggish.

If there was any doubt as to what Gov. McAuliffe had in mind, one only needs to look at his performance in office. His latest performance figures — although these numbers increase daily — are 1,027 new projects, 215,100 jobs created and $165 billion in capital investments. No other governor has come close to these kinds of numbers. But he clearly is not done yet.

Just last week, Gov. McAuliffe announced that Facebook will bring more than $1 billion of new investment to the Commonwealth. Facebook is directly investing $750 million to establish a 970,000-square-foot data center in the White Oak Technology Park in Henrico County. The project will bring thousands of construction jobs to the region and more than 100 full-time operational jobs. Virginia is already a leader in data centers with a record number in Loudoun County.

An exciting aspect to this new project is that with a new renewable energy tariff designed by Dominion Energy Virginia and Facebook, hundreds of millions of additional dollars will be invested in the construction of multiple solar facilities in the Commonwealth to service Facebook’s Henrico data center with 100 percent renewable energy. That feature continues a trend that has been going on in Virginia in the use of solar-generated electricity with new and expanded business projects.

In another project, Amazon is behind what had been the state’s largest planned solar installation to date, an 80-megawatt system in Accomack County. Early last year another solar project was introduced that spurred Virginia’s solar energy market by a partnership among the state, Dominion Virginia Power and Microsoft Corp. to bring a 20-megawatt solar farm to Fauquier County. The 260,000 panels on 125 acres represented more solar energy than was available across all of Virginia two years ago.

Recent evidence demonstrates that the new economy of the Commonwealth is being recognized nationally. Recently, Virginia was ranked in Area Development magazine’s 2017 “Top States for Doing Business” annual survey for the first time since 2010. Overall, the Commonwealth placed 11th out of 20 states ranked in the prestigious annual site consultants’ survey.

The Commonwealth ranked in the Top 10 in five of 12 subcategories that impact companies’ location and facility plans, including: Cooperative & Responsive State Government, fifth; Leading Workforce Development Programs, seventh; Competitive Labor Environment, eighth; Favorable Regulatory Environment, ninth; and Speed of Permitting, ninth. These rankings represent significant advances for Virginia as the state has not placed in any subcategories since 2013. This year also marks the first time Virginia has ever placed in the Cooperative & Responsive State Government, Competitive Labor Environment, and Speed of Permitting categories.

The new economy is proving to be good for jobs, with record low unemployment, and good for communities that were struggling to recover from the Great Recession. At the same time, it is good for the environment, with record growth in solar energy production.

  • SouthLakes

    I look forward to another rational and level-headed discussion about Delegate Plum’s piece here on RestonNow dot com

  • Anonymous Poster

    Credit where credit is due – Gov. McAuliffe is an alright guy in my book. Ken Plum however is not.

    • Mike M

      We agree on Plum. But McAuliffe is a DNC toadie and nothing more.

    • just sane

      my aunt likes cheese

  • Mike M

    Psst! Ken, the gubmint is not at the center of the economy. It is but a parasite on an economy. Good government has to struggle to return on what it sucks out of the economy. When the government goes counting savings made or jobs created due to its actions they are generally lying.

    • Willie Reston

      Have you considered the possibility that government and industry can – and, in fact, often do – work with one another toward a positive outcome?

      • Mike M

        I’ve seen it. But it is rare and usually gets corrupted.
        Have you considered that the government is not the source of economic well being and can only assist or follow?

      • The Constitutionalist

        Have you considered the possibility that the only revenue a government can generate is revenue taken from the other side of the equation?

        • Willie Reston

          Do you presume that a) government ought to be able to operate with no revenue, or b) that there should be no government in the first place? Those are the only two options available as you’ve made it well known how you feel about government trying to generate revenue via its own business ventures (and I don’t disagree with you there).

          • Patriot

            Clearly a Constitutionalist should be able to recognize that the Constitution grants the federal government taxing authority while the Virginia Constitution grants Virginia the authority to levy taxes.

          • The Constitutionalist

            A. No
            B. No

            The issue isn’t the government needing money. The issue is what the government does with the money it has. No government can be the center of the economy, it just isn’t possible, as money that the government generates is now money that you can’t spend or save (something that does grow an economy).

            One might say, looking at Paul Krugman here, that the government will just spend the money for you to grow the economy. However, it always costs more for the government to spend money than it does for you to spend money, because the government needs someone to spend the money. Which quite literally, always equates to a net loss. We just don’t see the net loss because it exists in our public debt and the value we lose in our purchasing power.

            The only way to make up for the deficit created by government spending to grow the economy is through monetary policy that manages inflation and debt. Two things that even Keynes said normal people just can’t possibly understand.

            The solution is a smaller government with no or very limited monetary policy that focuses on local, smaller governments. Not no government, and not a government that operates with no money.

      • JB Creeps me out

        yes indeed.

        the united states of amazon

        • 40yearsinreston

          + Google,Facebook and Netflix = The new Gang Of Four

  • 40yearsinreston

    New economy ?
    Giveaways to Amazon and Facebook ?
    These ‘jobs’are low paying mantenance tasks which involve pluggng in a replacement box when one breaks

    Dulles has hundreds of these box warehouses which by virtue of their heat and sound footprints are a nuisance

  • 40yearsinreston

    Regardless of McAuliffe, what has Ken done except bloviate about his vacations and push identity politics?

  • SuperCoop1280

    Since my question has yet to be answered (attempt #3), I’d be curious to know what Del. Plum’s thoughts are on the Board of Supervisors’ proposed population density increase in Reston. I totally get it is not an Assembly issue but as a resident of Fairfax County, I would like to think you have an opinion. Wouldn’t the massive population growth cause for more potential funds from the State for projects to ease overcrowded schools and roads? You talk about gun violence but what do you plan to do with a potential massive influx of new apartments in South Reston which is already a crime haven.

    I know it is not a fluff question, but where do you stand?

    Perhaps Reston Now might look into have a weekly or monthly feature asking these types of questions to our elected officials…

    • Anonymous Poster

      Plums opinion on density is N/A. He’s priorities are still tunnel visioning in on TJ owning slaves 191 years ago.

      • WG

        I sometimes wonder if his obsession of slavery is guilt based. He is from 1940’s era Shenandoah. Perhaps his Grandparents were owners?

        • 40yearsinreston

          If Plum felt guilt he would have resigned for collecting a paycheck for doing nothing

    • Rational Reston

      Del. Plum only expresses the thoughts that he’s told to express.

    • Greg

      He’s got to justify forcing metro to Reston after spending 30 years doing little more. Now that his gal-pal Hudgins has “managed” metro into the dysfunctional mess it is with nobody to pay for fixing it. Solution: maximum developed density times ten—and with lots of subsidized housing therein to buy more votes.

  • I’d rather post as a troll

    “Looks like a machine gun to me”
    -Ken Plum

  • drb

    First, the Virginia government did not bring the big guns of Amazon, Netflix and Facebook. It is the approximation to the Federal Government that they wish to be near to influence and stave off oppression from.

    Second, the reported solar explosion is due to government interference and not because of good business practice. The cost of solar generated power is multiple times higher than traditional power generation. Imagine how many jobs could have been created if the money spent on expensive power were free to expand business or increase pay to retain good employees instead of paying to train an ever revolving door of new low payed people.

    If companies want to build and use solar, wind and the like, God bless them. If they actually believed in God. To force the power companies to tow the line of the government that they are building and buying this old and yet more expensive source of power is a costly burden to those small businesses and low income households that could use the money to help themselves and the over all economy. I expect Ken, has as much knowledge of business as he has shown in his history that he claims to have been a teacher of.

    • Willie Reston

      Your views on energy costs are vastly outdated, my friend.


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