Virginia Gov. John M. Dalton today ticked off a list of companies that recently invested in Virginia, in an attempt to persuade some of 390 business executives in the Waldorf Astoria banquet room to build in his state.
But Dalton received his wildest applause when he announced one of the Commonwealth's most recent acquisitions -- Republican presidential nominee Ronald Reagan, who recently moved to a temporary home in Middleburg.
In his campaign to attract more business to the state, Dalton enlisted many of Virginia's conservative virtues, particularly its "right-to-work" laws and now Reagan.
"You don't have to take my word for it that Virginia is still the state where people not only have the right to work but who want to work; where the business climate is still warm, friendly and profitable; and where government is in your corner and not in your hair," Dalton said to applause. "Your newspapers tell you every morning of change and turmoil around the world, but in Virginia we are still taking charge of change instead of letting change take charge of us."
"While this is not exactly a new plant announcement, I think you would be interested to know that Gov. Reagan has taken up residence in Virginia," Dalton said, followed by cheers and one dissenter who hollered, "temporarily."
"Among other things I think [reagan] remembers that Virginia was the only southern state that did not vote for the present administration in Washington in 1976," Dalton continued. "According to the polls, Virginia will continue that record on Nov. 4." More applause.
Dalton spoke at the 29th Annual Virginia Report to Top Management sponsored by the Virginia State Chamber of Commerce. At the event, business executives with headquarters in New York and those who already have located in Virginia or plan to move there received a progress report on business acquisitions and favorable economic conditions from the state's top elected officials.
In attendance today, in addition to Dalton, were Lt. Gov. Charles S. Robb and Attorney General J. Marshall Coleman, reportedly two likely candidates for the state's highest office next year. They were busy patting backs and pumping flesh.
The luncheon at the Waldorf was paid for by the chamber and 37 companies, local economic development authorities and chambers of commerce, including the Fairfax County Economic Development and Prince William County Office of Economic Development.
Even after his term ends, Dalton said Virginia "will still be the state closest to the northeastern market that has a right-to-work law, and our community college system will still be training employes for specific jobs and specific industrial plants."
"Since 1976 our general assembly has passed 13 separate bills reducing general-fund taxes, with business and industry the biggest beneficiaries," Dalton continued.
He added that the state has a balanced budget "and we have held the increase in the number of state employes to just over 1 percent a year in my administration instead of the 5 to 6 percent average over the 10 years prior to this administration." Sounding like a campaign stumper, Dalton raised his voice for emphasis and said "I want to see growth in the private sector, not in the government."
Dalton also said that Virginia's unemployment rate consistently has been below the national average "so that business and industry in our state will not have to repay unemployment compensation loans."