Gov. Bob McDonnell announced Tuesday that the state will close the Mecklenburg Correctional Center in Southside Virginia to save money.

The move came after Pennsylvania decided to remove 1,000 of their prisoners from Virginia, resulting in a $20 million loss of revenue.

“In these difficult times, it is incumbent upon the Department of Corrections and state government to ensure that public safety continues to be paramount and, while doing so, to be the best stewards of taxpayer’s money,’’ McDonnell (R) said in a statement.

Inmates will be transferred to other facilities in the state. Virginia hopes to close the center, which houses more than 700 inmates, by May 2012.

State officials say the decision to close Mecklenburg Correctional Center and consolidate prisoners to the Green Rock Correctional Center in Chatham will result in an increase of about 300 beds.  It will also save about $10,000 per inmate each year.

McDonnell Chief of Staff Martin Kent and Secretary of Public Safety Marla Decker attended the Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors meeting Monday night to inform members of the closing. The Department of Corrections informed prison employees.

About 300 employees work at Mecklenburg. Decker estimates that about half will get new jobs, and they will try to help others find jobs.

Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade for Rural Economic Development Mary Rae Carter will try to help the area deal with the loss of the prison.

Mecklenburg Correctional Center, opened in 1976, requires substantial ongoing maintenance work as well as capital outlay project requirements. Green Rock, completed in 2007 and which houses 1,000, has relatively few maintenance issues.