Gov. Terry McAuliffe likes to talk big, especially when it comes to economic development, so he wasn’t shy about his ambitions when he visited Rosslyn’s ÜberOffices today to chat with dozens of entrepreneurs.
“When people talk about Silicon Valley, I want them to talk about Northern Virginia,” McAuliffe said.
McAuliffe fielded questions from the entrepreneurs, including the founders of Zoobean, uKnow, Ostendio and Local News Now, asking them to tell him what he can do to grow the innovation economy, and how they want him to help.
“I want you to stay here and raise families here,” he said. “Do whatever you have to do to stay in the Commonwealth of Virginia. I want you all to be fabulously successful and pay taxes here.”
Whenever McAuliffe speaks in public, he likes to throw around statistics about Virginia’s economy — the commonwealth has the second-most tech workers of any state in the country — and his accomplishments as governor — he’s brought more investment into the state already than the four previous governors combined he said.
He highlighted several key areas where he expects the tech sector in Virginia to thrive, among them cybersecurity and biotechnology. His 23-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son’s Social Security numbers were stolen in the Anthem Blue Cross breach, which he said just hit home how important cybersecurity is. Virginia has the most cybersecurity firms in the country, he pointed out.
At the same time, he said he wants more growth in the biotech world. Within his first few months as governer, McAuliffe was at a national biotech conference alongside Govs. Jerry Brown of California and Deval Patrick of Massachusetts. As the three state executives sat on stage, the hosts put a graphic of the 25 best states for biotechnology companies.
Massachusetts and California were Nos. 1 and 2 on that list, he said. Virginia wasn’t on it.
“It started to get a little uncomfortable for me,” he said with a laugh and a shrug. “[The National Institutes of Health] is just 11 miles from here. Maryland has done a great job on biotech, but we have much lower taxes. There’s no reason we can’t do better. California and Massachusettes should be nervous.”
McAuliffe said the White House will soon announced where a several-hundred thousand square foot cybersecurity campus will be placed, and he’s fighting to win it for Virginia. With the data centers in Loudoun County and the dark fiber in Arlington, the region is positioned to attract more and more technology companies.