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Lt. Gov. Asks Armstrong to be Ally “Not Foil”

In a four-page letter dated December 15 to Virginia House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong, Lt. Governor Bill Bolling asks the delegate from Martinsville to be an ally and “not an occasional political foil.”

Bolling’s letter to Armstrong was in response to a Roanoke Times November 21 article in which Armstrong seemed skeptical of the “chief jobs creation officer.”

Armstrong (D-Henry County), whose district has some of Virginia’s highest unemployment rates, was quoted as saying:

“Things haven’t gotten precipitously better; I haven’t been that impressed.”

In his letter to Armstrong, Bolling said he was concerned that Armstrong “may not be aware of the commitment of time and resources we have made and the progress we are beginning to see.” He wanted to make sure Armstrong was fully informed of activities and asked for his support of efforts to create jobs in the 10th district.

Bolling said, “As a leader in a region as challenged as Martinsville/Henry County, we want you to be an ally in our efforts to provide opportunity and prosperity, not just an occasional political foil.

We hope we can count on your ideas, your support and your partnership in the weeks, months and years ahead.”

The Lt. Governor was successful in securing two NASCAR Sprint cup races at the Martinsville Speedway which was in imminent danger of losing one of its two races. The result would have been a loss of $75 million in annual economic benefits, 1000 jobs and millions of dollars in state and local taxes, according to Bolling.

The deal struck with the International Speedway Corporation included a $2 million package of infrastructure improvements to the speedway in exchange for keeping the races at Martinsville for at least five years. Resources from the Jobs and Opportunity Agenda served as the title sponsor of the 2010 Virginia Is For Racing Lovers 300 Late Model Stock Car at Martinsville

Governor McDonnell and Bolling touted a payoff of their hard work and pointed to a 3.2% decrease in unemployment in Henry County and a 2.3% decrease in Martinsville.

Bolling listed seven companies that have announced new businesses openings or expansions in Martinsville/Henry County “which will result in 584 total new jobs and $12.45 million in capital investment to the region.”

In his letter Bolling admitted to realizing that even with these new jobs, Martinsville’s unemployment rate remains the highest in Virginia and has “endured some setbacks … too many people in Martinsville/Henry County are still unemployed.”

During the 2010 General Assembly the Jobs and Opportunity Agenda received broad bipartisan support and over $60 million in funding for proven economic development initiatives.

While Bolling said that neither he nor Governor McDonnell pretended “to have all the answers” he was optimistic that with “significant collaboration and partnership between the private sector and executive, legislative and local political leadership” the region’s economic condition would improve. Bolling said that, “Martinsville/Henry County is fortunate to have a talented and dedicated economic development team and a committed group of local elected officials who have been invaluable teammates.”

In closing Bolling wrote, “As always, Governor McDonnell and I are available to discuss any issues related to Martinsville / Henry County and we look forward to your thoughts and advice.”

Delegate Ward Armstrong responded to Bolling’s letter Wednesday saying, “Bill Bolling can write all the four-page letters he wants but at the end of the day I’ve got a district that is struggling harder then any other district in this state .”

When asked of his future political ambitions, Armstrong confirmed that he will run for the House of Delegates in 2011 and that 2013 is “a long way off.” The letter in its entirety can be viewed at

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