This week, I have several exciting updates from the District and from Capitol Hill.
Some great statistics have been published recently about the success of business in the Commonwealth that I wanted to share. I am also thrilled about the start of our Veteran of the Year Award program and our upcoming Mobile McEachin.
I also wanted to highlight a recent piece of mine featured in Richmond Free Press about investments in our nation’s infrastructure and how that could impact neighborhoods like Jackson Ward in the Fourth District.
Additionally, I wanted to give my thoughts on the removal of the Robert E. Lee monument from Richmond this week. This is a long-overdue moment for Virginia as our monuments should represent our values and recognize heroes deserving of our veneration.
There are many communities throughout the south and northeastern regions of the country that are dealing with the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Ida. Here is more information on how you can help in the relief efforts.
Finally, today is the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. On this day, we remember all those who died in the tragic attacks and honor the brave first responders and emergency personnel who risked their lives to save others.
Infrastructure Must Prioritize Equity – Jackson Ward & the History of Highways
Investing in our infrastructure systems is critical to our nation and the Commonwealth. However, as we look to make these historic investments, we need to be cognizant of the impacts of infrastructure on communities and neighborhoods. Historically, previous infrastructure investments have disproportionately impacted low-income and minority neighborhoods. come at the expense of minority neighborhoods. This has happened in communities throughout the nation, including right here in Virginia’s Fourth. Jackson Ward, a prominent and thriving early twentieth century African American community in Richmond, was a victim of shortsighted infrastructure investments and disregard for Black communities. Jackson Ward was the home of the Hippodrome Theater where prominent entertainers such as Ella Fitzgerald and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson performed. It was also a thriving business center where Maggie L Walker became the first woman to found a bank and where the prominent church Sixth Mount Zion Church is situated.
In the 1950’s, the Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike, which is now part of I-95, was designed by government officials to bisect the neighborhood, destroying buildings and the community’s cohesiveness. Fortunately, renewed interest in Jackson Ward and its storied history is leading to a new thriving community, contributing in every way to the life of Richmond. I am supporting robust investments in the reconnecting neighborhoods program proposed in President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. To learn more about this crucial program, read my op-ed in Richmond Free Press.
To better understand the impacts of our nation’s previous investments in highways on minority communities like Jackson Ward, watch this video I created.
Lee Monument Finally Removed
Like many of you, I was pleased to see the Lee Monument in Richmond finally removed this week. Robert E. Lee was a traitor to our nation who led an army in rebellion in an attempt to continue the heinous policy of slavery. While we certainly need to remember those times so we don’t repeat them and so we continue to learn, understand, and work to eliminate systemic racism, we must not and should not glorify figures that promoted slavery and racism with larger-than-life monuments. To see this largest monument in Virginia come down is a sign of progress, and we owe thanks to all those who worked, protested, and lobbied tirelessly to make this happen. Now the real work continues, as we seek to bring true justice and equity to all Americans.
Veteran of the Year Award
I’m excited to announce the opening of our annual Veteran of the Year program to honor the service and sacrifice of veterans in our district.
Our nation’s veterans demonstrate unparalleled bravery and risk life and limb to keep America safe and free. who have served our country, risked life and limb to keep America safe and free, too often struggle when their service is over. I know that Virginia’s Fourth is home to many veterans who served our country and continue to make positive contributions to our community. I am proud to launch our second annual VA-04 Veteran of the Year program to honor our brave servicemembers. I look forward to reading the nominations and having the opportunity to recognize them for their service.
Eligible nominees must be honorably discharged veterans of any of the U.S. armed services currently living in Virginia’s Fourth Congressional District. Nominations for the Veteran of the Year are due by October 29, 2021 and can be submitted here.
Letter Calling for $10 Billion Coastal Community Investment
I was pleased to join a bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by Reps. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Don Young (R-AK), in sending a letter calling for a $10 billion dollar investment in coastal communities to assist them with restoration and resiliency against future climate change repercussions. Investing in these communities will reinvigorate them, create thousands of good-paying jobs, and restore vital coastal ecosystems while increasing climate resiliency. Coastal communities contribute over $7.6 trillion to our economy annually so investing in their economic health benefits the entire country
I want to share some interesting and relevant statistics about small businesses in Virginia. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, supporting families, creating jobs, and providing essential goods and services to communities. Our nation’s small businesses have struggled during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but their contributions to our economy are invaluable.
Between March 2019 and March 2020, 26,598 small businesses opened and 26,339 closed. Moreover, small businesses contributed an increase of 10,765 jobs in Virginia, over 90% of the job increases in that period.
In Virginia, women make up 44.3% of business owners and 47.4% of workers. Veterans own 9.5% of businesses, and are 8.6% of workers. Racial minorities own 25.2% of businesses and are 29.6 of workers.
Finally, a total of 7,192 firms exported goods worth $16.8 billion from Virginia in 2019. Of these exporters, about 85% were small businesses and they exported goods worth $4.4 billion, making up slightly over 26% of Virginia exports.
If you are having an issue with a federal agency, including passports, visas, lost tax refunds missing benefits, or other concerns, my office is here to help. Due to ongoing public health concerns, we are meeting with constituents virtually to keep everyone safe and healthy. This month, we are hosting a Mobile McEachin on September 22nd from 10:30am to 3pm ET. This is a chance to meet one on one with one of my expert constituent services representatives who have experience and knowledge in resolving federal agency problems. You can sign up here.
If you want to stay up-to-date on all of the work my office is doing, I encourage you to follow along on our social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Please remember that my office is always here to help if you have a question or need assistance. You can reach us using the contact information below and we will do everything we can to connect you with the resources you need.
I look forward to hearing from you soon!
A. Donald McEachin
Member of Congress
Virginia’s 4th District