BRISTOL, Va. -

Former Virginia Governor and U.S. Senator Tim Kaine is getting ready for day two of a visit to southwest Virginia.

It's part of his two-week tour of the Commonwealth.

The senator began today with a tour of General Dynamics in Marion.

This afternoon he spoke to a class at Emory and Henry College, then it was on to the United Way Virginia Highlands office in Abingdon to discuss economic development initiatives. "We see a real renaissance in career and technical education," said Kaine. "There are a whole lot of jobs that need technical skills, whether it's welders, computer programmers or other technical skills, we have a lot more to do.  So some of my meetings the last few days have been with school superintendents in community colleges as well as employers about that."

Senator Kaine also spoke to us at our news station about the future of coal. "There are challenges for coal, and the biggest challenge right now is the price of natural gas has fallen so much that its utilities are choosing to build gas-fired plants, rather than coal fired plants," said Kaine. "But the lesson I draw from that is it was innovation that caused the price of natural gas to fall, so we've got to be every bit as innovative in coal, and if we do, coal will continue to have a place in how we produce power, and jobs will go with it."    

Kaine also said the state needs to make it a priority to make sure veterans are not left behind after serving our country. "Veterans have an unemployment rate that is higher than the national average," said Kaine. "The best way to tackle that is not waiting until someone is a veteran."

Kaine helped pass a bill to make the transition to civilian life easier for veterans. "Everybody in the military, when they get a skill, they should get the credential for that skill right away, not wait until later when they might exit the military," said Kaine. "You operate heavy equipment, you get the commercial driver's license. You're going to be a battlefield medic, get physician's assistant or nursing credits."

On Wednesday morning Senator Kaine will be touring the Clean Energy Research & Development Center on Lee Highway in Bristol; after that he'll check out the Communities in Schools program at Highland View Elementary.