Governor Terry McAuliffe and his cabinet spent the day in Danville. Their focus? Boosting the economy with new jobs.
A lot of people need work, but do they have the skills to fill these positions?
The governor says it begins with the right education at places like the Danville Community College's Regional Center for Advanced Technology and Training and continues when graduates find work.
In their first meeting outside Richmond, Governor Terry McAuliffe and many of his cabinet members brainstormed ways of continuing education into the workforce.
Political and company leaders from Henry, Pittsylvania, and Halifax Counties, also Danville, Martinsville, and South Boston expressed their business concerns and accomplishments, most asking the governor to help sell the idea of local people, learning local, and working local.
"The system that exists today is not working. We need to be tying what our students are learning with jobs and the skill sets with the jobs of the future. There are jobs available," McAuliffe said.
Business leaders urged the need to diversify the economy, by drawing a variety of work to the area, and encouraging small businesses to open in southern Virginia.
Higher education leaders say all of that begins with schools knowing what work is available in the area, training specifically for those jobs.
"One of the priorities that we need to focus on as we work to diversify Virginia's economy is aligning the higher ed systems with the workforce needs and student interest and demand," said Anne Holton, the Virginia Secretary of Education.
McAuliffe took his message to Main Street Danville, meeting with people on their lunch break, unannounced, and touring the progress and economic struggles of Danville.
"I think we have an economy today in the world, a global economy that is flat, maybe improving a little bit, but you got to work extra hard and the folks in Danville and Pittsylvania County are putting that extra effort in," McAuliffe said.
McAuliffe says he wants Virginia to be a leader on matching skills in the workplace with what's taught in school.
Tuesday evening and tomorrow members of the cabinet are meeting with school, agricultural and business leaders to learn how this side of Virginia is building back its workforce.