McDonnell has spent a lot of his political career trying to shrink government and scale back its various roles, but economic development is clearly an area where he thinks his administration should do as much as it can.
"Well, listen, I'm from the government, and I'm here to help," he said to hundreds of local business leaders at a meeting of the Washington Executives Association in Tysons Corner.
McDonnell gave the group good news, such as the Commonwealth's 6.4 percent unemployment rate -- a number that dropped for the 12th straight month, and five months of growth in state revenues.
But McDonnell says the state can still do better, and higher education could be the key. He wants to see state colleges and universities cut costs -- perhaps staff salaries -- to help pay for expanded capacity.
"We have a goal of 100,000 new degrees for our kids in Virginia over the next 15 years," he says.
Many local business owners are more worried about the next 15 months. Gary Grimmett with Virginia roofing Corporation, says there are reasons for both optimism and caution.
"Everybody's still a little uneasy about where things are going right now," he says.
The governor also stopped in Herndon at a new location for Raytheon. The new building means the company will soon be hiring nearly 200 additional workers.