Jennifer McClellan Rolls Out Economic Plan in Richmond Jennifer McClellan Rolls Out Economic Plan in Richmond

Candidate for governor rolls out economic plan Sunday at Shockoe Bottom.

RICHMOND-Gubernatorial candidate and state senator Jennifer McClellan unveiled her proposed economic plan Sunday in Richmond’s historic Shockoe Bottom neighborhood. The location was no accident – Shockoe Bottom is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the capital, and its history is deeply entwined with the legacy of slavery.

But it’s also a center of small business and economic revitalization in the city, mirroring one of the key pillars of McClellan’s economic plan: support for marginalized business owners, who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. 

“Previous administrations focused Virginia’s resources on recruiting big businesses to come here and bring new jobs, but they didn’t do enough for small, women- and minority-owned businesses right here in Virginia,” McClellan said.

Marques Jones is a small business owner and chair of the Henrico County Democrats. He said his support for McClellan was based on her strong track record as a state senator.  

“The last fifteen years in the general assembly, Jenn has legislated with small businesses in mind,” Jones said. 

In addition to helping small business, supporters also pointed out her work this year. Ten of McClellan’s bills passed the General Assembly and were signed into law. That’s the highest number of any state lawmaker.

What’s in a Plan?

McClellan’s plan is available in full on her website, but she highlighted three major areas the project aimed to address: worker protections, support for small businesses, and growing green energy.

McClellan’s Legislative Priorities:

  • Passing paid sick leave
  • Moving to a $15 minimum wage “as fast as possible”
  • Removing barriers for collective bargaining, including for public employees
  • Allowing gig workers to access unemployment benefits
  • Expanding the Community Development Financial Institutions fund (CDFI)
  • Instituting a loan program to help small businesses recover from COVID-19
  • Setting up a state fund to cover sick leave costs for small businesses
  • Expanding high-speed rail

McClellan’s plan highlights her past support for the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, which extended existing worker protections to cover domestic workers, who were often exempted.

Ingrid Vaca, a member of Care in Action, said those protections were more necessary now than ever before, 

“The pandemic has highlighted what we knew all along: care workers are essential to the economy and our economic recovery… yet we are underpaid and undervalued.”

Another pillar of McClellan’s economic plan is support for more wind and solar power, including initiatives designed to build solar power into schools. 

“We will make Virginia a national hub for clean energy and transportation jobs,” she said.

Jennifer McClellan also pointed to her support of the Virginia Clean Energy Act, which requires Virginia to transition to clean energy by 2045. In one analysis the legislation was estimated to create 13,000 jobs a year through 2050. However, that bill was criticized at the time by some environmental groups, including the Sunrise Movement and Food and Water Action, for its long timeline and inadequate approach to phasing out fossil fuel usage.

Jakob Cordes is a freelance reporter for Dogwood. You can reach him at info@vadogwood.com.

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