Saturday, December 14, 2013

Governor Bob McDonnell Proposes $11 Million for Richmond Slavery and Freedom Heritage Site

English: The state seal of Virginia. Српски / ...
English: The state seal of Virginia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Tourism Industry Supports 210,000 Jobs in Commonwealth; 2012 Was Record Tourism Year in State with $21.2 Billion Generated
Virginia Tourism Funding Provides 5:1 Return on Investment

RICHMOND - Governor Bob McDonnell has directed $11 million in his forthcoming biennial budget to the City of Richmond for the development, creation, and enhancement of the Slavery and Freedom Heritage Site in Richmond.  The proposed funding continues the governor’s commitment to strengthening Virginia’s tourism industry, which is a major revenue and job-driver in the Commonwealth. Over the past three years of the McDonnell administration, tourism funding, which has a proven 5:1 return on investment, has increased by over $5 million per year. In 2012, visitors to Virginia generated $21.2 billion in revenue from tourism in 2012, a four percent increase over 2011 and a new record high for the Commonwealth. The tourism industry in Virginia supported 210,000 jobs in 2012, an increase of one percent in employment, and provided more than $1.36 billion in state and local taxes. During the McDonnell administration, tourism revenues have continued to increase each year, with a total revenue increase of 12.3 percent since 2010.

Speaking about his budget proposal, Governor McDonnell remarked, “The institution of slavery on American soil was an abomination and affront to the dignity of every man and woman, all of whom are created in the image and likeness of God. Creating this heritage site in our capital city, where the horrific slave trade flourished, will serve as a critical historical reminder that we must be ever vigilant for the cause of justice and freedom. My recent tours of the Slave Trail and heritage site moved me to act now as we solemnly commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War.”

The governor continued, “Tourism means jobs in Virginia. Over the past four years we have invested in Virginia’s tourism industry, and that investment has paid off at a rate of 5:1. Last year tourism generated $21.2 billion in revenue in our state, and employed 210,000 people. This should come as no surprise. Virginia has a compelling and moving story to tell. Our Commonwealth is where America began, was ripped apart, came back together, and was begun anew. The story of America was written right here in Virginia. Now, we have the duty and the opportunity to tell that story to the world. In the process, we both enlighten visitors from across the globe while creating thousands of good-paying jobs for our fellow Virginians right here at home. That’s what the creation of the Richmond Slavery and Freedom Heritage Site will do. It will bring thousands of visitors to our state’s capital, continue to tell the story of Virginia and America, as imperfect and tough as it is, and spur economic development and job creation. This is a targeted, smart investment of state dollars. It is good for education and history; it is good for our economy; it is even better for our country. I look forward to witnessing the construction and opening of this important historical landmark in the years ahead, and I want to thank Mayor Dwight Jones, Delegate Delores McQuinn, Governor Doug Wilder and others who all provided valuable input on the need for this important project.”

“This investment is so important because we’ve never fully or properly told the story of what happened in Richmond,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones of Richmond. “The trade in enslaved human beings formed the economic backbone of this Commonwealth for centuries. As Richmonders and as Americans, we need to tell the full story of our country’s experience from enslavement to emancipation. Governor McDonnell’s budget proposal will help make it possible to tell this story in a bold way, and it will bring more people to Richmond to learn about the experiences of the men, women, and children who built this Commonwealth while living in bondage.”

Delegate Delores L. McQuinn (D-Richmond) noted, “I am elated that Gov. McDonnell is including 11 million dollars in his biennial budget to help advance the development of the Slave Trail to make Richmond an international destination. The monies will be used to educate citizens about the atrocities of slavery in America and the triumph of those enslaved persons after emancipation. For over a decade The Richmond Slave Trail Commission has worked tirelessly to tell this story of tragedy to triumph. Governor McDonnell’s visionary leadership will create an inheritance for generations to come as they learn about the African-American experiences, contributions and legacy to the United States and world history.”

Specifically, the governor’s budget amendments disburse the $11 million as follows:

·         $5 million for the planning, design and construction of the Pavilion at Lumpkin's Jail
·         $1 million for improvements to the Richmond Slave Trail
·         $5 million for the planning, design and construction of a slavery museum

The City of Richmond is required to provide local matching funds totaling at least $5,000,000 for the same purposes prior to receiving state funds.  In addition to the local matching funds, the City of Richmond shall provide and dedicate appropriate contiguous real estate prior to the receipt of any state funding for the purposes listed above. 
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