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Kaine speaks in stafford
Kaine says he's optimistic about Virginia's prospects in a global marketplace

 Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine speaks to members of the business community during an Annual Salute to Business sponsored by the Stafford (County) Economic Development Authority at the Riverside Center yesterday.
ROBERT A. MARTIN/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 5/18/2007

BY EMILY BATTLE

Confidence, not fear, should characterize Virginia's approach to increased competition from a global marketplace.

That was the message Gov. Tim Kaine delivered to Stafford County business owners yesterday at a luncheon to mark the state's Business Appreciation Week.

Kaine acknowledged that a lot of politicians and policymakers around the country--including many in his own Democratic Party--see globalization as something to be scared of.

He thinks that's the wrong view.

"We are in a global marketplace. We're not going backward," he said. "The only way we'll be able to succeed is to go in with an attitude of confidence."

Virginia has many reasons for that kind of confidence, he said.

Dulles International Airport, whose flights carry 26 million passengers a year to and from points all over the world, provides a physical connection for global businesses.

The Port of Virginia, now the second-busiest on the East Coast, makes the state an important link in the worldwide distribution of goods.

Kaine ventured that in the next 50 years, the state's port will surpass the Port of New York as the largest in North America.

He said the sand-bottomed channels in Virginia's port will be able to be dredged to accommodate ever-growing ships, while New York's rock-bottomed channels don't have room to grow.

"If we make these investments, we will be the largest port on the East Coast," he said.

He mentioned Swedish furniture maker Ikea's recent decision to build its first North American manufacturing plant in Danville as reason to be optimistic about globalization, even in a city that has lost thousands of furniture and textile jobs in recent years as those industries have lost ground to overseas competitors.

"That takes a community that had lost jobs overseas and it convinces them, 'Hey, maybe we're going to be winners in a global marketplace,'" Kaine said.

Kaine also touted Virginia's progress over the past 50 years from what he called a "back-of-the-pack state" in economic and educational statistics to one that gets recognized by national publications for its management and business climate.

Stafford County Economic Development Director Tim Baroody added that the county also has reason to be optimistic.

Its business growth rate of 45 percent over the past five years is the second-highest in the state, and its 5 percent employment growth rate is the seventh-highest statewide.

Emily Battle: 540/374-5413
Email: ebattle@freelancestar.com