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Ambassador Kirk Visits Ashland and Richmond, Virginia

Today, Ambassador Kirk traveled to Virginia to discuss job creation and President Obama’s “Blueprint for An America Built to Last” with local business and civic leaders. The first stop on the trip was Dominion Resources GreenTech Incubator (DRGI) in Ashland, where the Ambassador was greeted by Mayor Faye Prichard. During his visit, Ambassador Kirk toured the state of the art incubator facility with Charles Hartgrove, Town Manager of Ashland, and Robert Skunda, the President and Chairman of DRGI. The Ambassador spoke with several of the business owners about their plans to develop alternative and renewable energy products and create good jobs for American workers.

Ambassador Kirk also met with current and former members of DRGI, as well as other local officials in a small discussion on trade, jobs, and energy. In his remarks, Ambassador Kirk talked about President Obama’s State of the Union address and the blueprint the President laid out for the American economy. This included emphasis that over the past few years, renewable energy use has nearly doubled, and that in 2011, the United States reclaimed the position as the world’s leading investor in clean energy. Ambassador Kirk also stated that “the President challenged us to double exports, [and] we are ahead of pace to double exports by 2014.”

Ambassador Kirk at the DGRI Roundtable 

Ambassador Kirk answered questions on a range of issues, including ways to spur job creation. In another reference to the State of the Union address, Ambassador Kirk said that “the trade agreements will level the playing field, and this is especially important because a majority of exporters are small businesses.”

Founded in November 2009 by five founding partners, the Dominion Resources GreenTech Incubator (DRGI) seeks to attract clean energy innovators eager to accelerate the successful growth of their early stage businesses. Member companies of DRGI benefit from access to staff expertise and beta testing on the Dominion Resources power grid, business advisory boards, support services plus networking, educational programs, and physical space to work and operate. Bill Daughtrey, DRGI’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence, provides one-on-one mentoring and business consultation to member companies to prepare them for moving successfully from idea to a viable technology based business.

DRGI is managed by the Virginia Biosciences Development Center (VBDC). Over the past 15 years VBDC has successfully incubated nearly 70 biosciences companies in its incubation program at the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park. VBDC boasts of more than 40 graduates including three publicly traded companies.

Following the tour at DRGI, Ambassador Kirk participated in a State of the Union Roundtable event at the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce (GRCC). He was greeted by John Easter, Senior Vice President of Government & Community Affairs at the GRCC, and introduced by the Mayor of Richmond, Dwight C. Jones.

Ambassador Kirk at the GRCC Roundtable

Ambassador Kirk’s remarks focused on jobs, trade, and the economy. His comments echoed the State of the Union address, in which the President focused on creating American jobs and opening new export possibilities with free trade agreements. The participants discussed how small to mid-size businesses can get involved in trade. The open conversation focused on key trade initiatives like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), and the impacts and implementation of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS).

Ambassador Kirk at the GRCC Roundtable

The GRCC includes nine jurisdictions of the Richmond Region, including the City of Richmond, the Town of Ashland, and the Counties of Charles City, Chesterfield, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, Powhatan, and New Kent. The Greater Richmond Chamber monitors various legislative and regulatory matters at the local, state, and federal levels. The GRCC’s 2012 public policy priorities are transportation funding, workforce development, and early childhood investment. The President and CEO of the GRCC is Kim Scheeler.

The Richmond region is home to some of the world's most successful businesses, including a national and international mix of seven Fortune 500 and four Fortune 1000 companies.