Monday, September 07, 2009

Virginia Women in Business - Gubernatorial Candidate Responds

Heading into Labor Day weekend, it seemed appropriate to query the Virginia Gubernatorial candidates (Creigh Deeds (D) and Robert McDonnell (R)) about their views concerning Virginia women in business. In disclosure, "Gateway to Loudoun County" (this blog) is maintained by KME Internet Marketing, a woman-owned small business in Loudoun County, VA.

We asked: "What can be done to further encourage, support and maintain the rapid growth of women-owned businesses in this region's business tax districts, in a manner that also supports work-life balance for dual income families?"

For those who know us, this is a very central issue to both our company and family, and very central we believe to promoting the economic recovery of the region. It's also something we feel is owed to our daughters to promote (remember Mary Poppins?).

Note to the candidates - in terms of constituent marketing and communications (that is business, after all), we can only give out about a B-minus for both (notwithstanding the actual response). Mr. McDonnell's email generated a well-written, generic, instant response - though the subject line said he was "Out of Office". We've not yet heard back from him, but hope to, soon. Mr. Deeds' campaign didn't generate an autoresponse, but Jeremy Sturchio, Deeds Campaign Deputy Policy Director, did respond personally 12 hours later, with a polite message that we'd get an answer shortly.

Here, therefore, is Creigh Deed's response:

"I think women who work deserve every opportunity to pursue a fulfilling career on equal footing with their male peers. It starts with equal pay for equal work. In 2007, on average, women in Virginia working full-time, year-round earned only 77% of what men working full-time, year-round earned - one percentage point below the nationwide average of 78%. That is not acceptable.

My voting record in opposition to wage discrimination demonstrates my steadfast support for gender equity in the workplace, and as governor I will work to close the wage gap between women and men in Virginia.

I know that in these tough economic times many families need two incomes to make ends meet, but too often quality, affordable child care is not readily available. As a legislator I led the fight to raise health and safety standards for child care and my voting record shows consistent support for expanding and improving child care options. As governor I will continue to focus on child care as a key priority not only for families but also as an economic development tool that enables parents to pursue careers and raise their children at the same time.

In addition, I'll make it easier for anyone to work from home by finishing the last mile of broadband internet across the Commonwealth, and offering businesses a $1,200 tax credit per teleworking employee and a $500 tax credit for each employee working under a flextime agreement. Experts estimate that telecommuting combined with flextime will reduce auto emissions and could decrease rush hour traffic up to 20 percent.

Then, for all small businesses, I¹ll start with a simple idea to help business owners "create a job, get a tax credit." For every new employee a small business owner hires, I¹ll provide a state tax credit equal to the employer share of the federal payroll tax. I'll also provide tax credits for capital investment, extend the carry back period for net operating losses from two to five years, and streamline business regulations by putting all forms online and creating a single point of contact at the Department of Business Assistance for all small businesses.

And, finally, to encourage the growth of women-owned businesses in particular, I will direct my administration to increase the percentage of state contracts awarded to small, women- and minority-owned businesses (SWaM). Part of this initiative will involve increased outreach and ongoing communication so that state officials and SWaM business owners are aware of issues facing both the Commonwealth and SWaM business communities. As governor I will support SWaM-owned businesses because I know that one of the keys to job growth is creating a culture of entrepreneurship that encourages small business development."

Very thoughtful response, and we look forward to more details - along with feedback on this important issue from the McDonnell campaign (which we'll publish right away).

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