VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC)-- Governor-elect Ralph Northam wants high-paying jobs to come to Virginia.
Northam made his first major speech in Hampton Roads since his election last month as Virginia's 73rd governor. He said jobs will be a top priority once he takes office.
Virginia's growth has trailed the rest of the country for the past six years as it struggles to recover from the recession. According to a recent study by ODU, it found that almost 30 percent of the state's gross domestic product — its total output of goods and services — is directly related to federal spending,
In Hampton Roads approximately 39 percent of the value of economic activity is directly or indirectly related to defense spending.
"No region should be dependent on just one industry.," Northam said, in a speech before the Hampton Roads Chamber. "So, with urgency, we really need to diversify or expand our economy."
Northam said that despite Virginia's 3.6 percent unemployment rate, a 9 year low, the state needs to do more to secure high paying jobs.
"And that's why we all need to be ready to get to work," he said.
One major impediment, Northam said, is years of budgetary mismanagement in Congress, with the country now facing yet another fiscal cliff next Friday, with the scheduled expiration of the current stop-gap Continuing Resolution funding government.
Northam said he is worried.
"We have really leaned in on our congressman and our senators up in Washington to say, please deal with the budget, and we really don't need, especially in Virginia, another sequestration, another government shutdown," he said.
Northam said he wants to improve broadband and cell phone access in rural parts of Virginia, and he wants to beef up STEM programs in the public schools.
Northam will be sworn in as Virginia's 73rd governor on Saturday, January 13th at noon, at the state capitol in Richmond.