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McDonnell, Bolling to travel to Southside

Anita Kumar

Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling will travel to Martinsville and Danville next Wednesday on their first economic development trip to the economically depressed Southside area.

As we told you he would, McDonnell named Bolling to a new Cabinet-level position -- Chief Jobs Creation Officer -- this morning at a press conference. The job will bring with it with no additional salary, but will come with an undetermined number of new staffers. (The lieutenant governor makes $36,321 a year in what is considered a part-time position.)

Bolling will be responsible for helping lure businesses to the state, coordinating with all state agencies that deal with economic development and sheparding economic-related bills through the General Assembly. He will lead a new Job Creation and Economic Opportunity Task Force and an internal working group of cabinet secretaries and agency heads.

This is the second time in a week that McDonnell has announced that he is creating a new Cabinet position. (Last week, he named lobbyist Eric Finkbeiner senior advisor for policy, a job that will now be part of the Cabinet). When asked how elevating two jobs fits into his fiscally conservative philosophy, the incoming governor told us to wait until he was done forming the Cabinet and we would see he was saving money. (For example, he said he hopes to save by retooling the office of workforce development).

"It's going to be more access to the governor for less money,'' he said. "My goal is...do more with less...I intend to save money."

McDonnell said that 23 lieutenant governors in other states work on economic development and it seemed like a natural fit for Bolling. We don't think we're going to hear any complaints from Bolling, who is looking to run for governor in four years and could benefit from a high-profile role in the new administration.

"We're determined to get the economy moving again and create jobs,'' Bolling said. "We will do whatever it takes to accomplish that goal. If we can't go through an obstacle, we'll go over it, under it, we'll go around it. We're not going to accept any excuses."

McDonnell pledged during the campaign that he or Bolling would visit Southside Virginia every 30 days for as long as it takes to improve the economic conditions there.

At a press conference on Capitol Square, McDonnell also named respected Richmond businessman Robert Sledd his Secretary of Commerce and Trade. Sledd was formerly a top-ranking executive with Peformance Food Group, a food distribution company, and has been semi-retired since 2006.

McDonnell also announced that longtime aide Janet Polarek, who served as his campaign manager in 2005, will become Secretary of the Commonwealth. Polarek was chief operations officer in McDonnell's gubernatorial campaign and is serving as deputy director of personnel and administration during the transition. The main function of the Secretary of the Commonwealth's office is to help the governor appoint more than 4,000 Virginians to serve on boards and commissions.

By Anita Kumar  |  December 10, 2009; 12:19 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Bill Bolling , Robert F. McDonnell  
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