Tobacco Commission Twenty Years In

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the creation of the Virginia Tobacco Commission. It is appropriate to look at what the Commission has accomplished, the work we continue to do, and how we have helped set southern and southwest Virginia up for success moving forward.

Twenty years ago, the outlook for the region was grim. Everyone is familiar with the story: manufacturing and textile jobs had been lost by the tens of thousands and tobacco - a mainstay of the region’s agricultural economy - was facing declining demand. Something had to be done.

The General Assembly created the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission to help rebuild our economy. Since then, the Commission has made strategic investments that have not only produced immediate results by bringing jobs and significant capital investment to the regions, but we have also made long term investments that have set us up for success for decades to come.

The Commission has focused on education as a vital part of developing an economically diverse and successful economy. If you are going to attract businesses to a region, you must have a workforce that is ready to fill the jobs that will be created. For that reason, the Commission has invested more than $196 million in our community colleges and student scholarships since 2000; acting as a critical source of capital allowing educational institutions to start programs in nursing, IT, manufacturing, and other in-demand fields. Further, the Commission recognized that workforce training and certificate programs would be critical; therefore, we have offered thousands for scholarships and aid, lowering the cost of training. Education has always been, and will continue to be, a top priority for the Commission.

We love to hear from you! You can reach us at Sen.Ruff@verizon.net, 434-374-5129, or P. O. Box 332, Clarksville, VA 23927.

To read the entire column pick up the March 27, 2019 edition of the Brunswick Times-Gazette.