- The Washington Times - Friday, October 12, 2001

Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III announced last night he will boost unemployment benefits and bolster the tourism industry to help in the state's financial recovery from last month's terrorist attack on the Pentagon.
In a televised address, Mr. Gilmore said the attack on the Pentagon and the subsequent three-week shutdown of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport cost the state more than $1.2 billion in revenue. In addition, about 39,800 Virginians filed for unemployment during the past month, Mr. Gilmore said.
"Our economy needs a spark in order to create new jobs and protect the ones we have," Mr. Gilmore said.
The Republican governor said last night he will raise the weekly unemployment benefits from $268 to $368 statewide for the next six months. He said the benefits will be retroactive to the week of Sept. 9.
"Like most of us, these men and women can't afford to miss a paycheck," Mr. Gilmore said. "They are cab drivers, baggage handlers, airplane mechanics, and hotel and restaurant employees. They need to make payments on their cars and mortgages and provide food and clothing for their children."
Mr. Gilmore said the temporary shutdown of Reagan National put at least 10,000 people in Northern Virginia and the Washington area out of work for more than three weeks. The shutdown also affected another 75,000 people, such as cab drivers and restaurateurs whose earnings depend on the airport.
The governor also said he will add $600,000 to the state's Capital Access Program, which helps banks to meet the financing needs of businesses in the state. The extra money will provide small businesses affected by the attacks access to up to $18 million in loans.
In addition, Mr. Gilmore said he will create the "Governor's Emergency Opportunity Fund," which will be used to swiftly close economic-development deals and create jobs in all parts of the state over the next 90 days.
"I have made job creation a top priority during the last 31/2 years, and I am making it an even higher priority in these uncertain economic times," the governor said.
Mr. Gilmore also will release $30 million to begin long-planned campus construction projects at Old Dominion University in the Hampton Roads area and at Virginia Tech in Southwestern Virginia.
"These projects will create jobs almost immediately," he said.
Finally, the governor said the state will kick off a new tourism advertising campaign called "Virginia Stands for Freedom." The new ads will air in Virginia and other states and feature the state's history.
Before the attacks, the state's tourism industry was the 10th-largest in the country, Mr. Gilmore said.
"Our economy will recover, our people will be secure, and we will continue to provide the leadership that Virginia has always offered to our nation," Mr. Gilmore said.
Mr. Gilmore also addressed security issues, warning about the possibility of another terrorist attack. "The FBI has reported that there may be additional terrorist attacks within the United States over the next several days," he said.
But the governor said state police are on the "highest level of alertness" and are increasing security at all of the state's power plants. The police are also working with the state's Department of Transportation to monitor the movement of hazardous materials on state highways, bridges and tunnels.
"The safety of you and your family is our top priority," he said.

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