The GO Virginia Board met on March 12 to approve $6.7 million in competitive economic development grants to support seven regional initiatives. The Board is a public 24-member policy board that provides oversight to the nine regional councils and provides state incentives to match with local, federal, and private funds to encourage regional economic cooperation and development.
The seven proposals unanimously approved by the Board were:
- Smart Farming at the Center for Workforce and Innovation of Appalachia, which involved Mountain Empire Community College and the Counties of Wise, Lee, and Scott to expand unmanned systems coursework applied to agricultural uses.
- Increasing the Birth Rates of New High Growth Companies for Region Two, which involved the counites of Alleghany, Botetourt, and Roanoke and the towns of Bedford and Winton to help fund personnel, operations, and outreach to increase the number of high growth companies in the region.
- 757 Angel Network, which involved the Cities of Hampton, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach to connect promising startup and early stage companies with smart growth capital.
- Cybersecurity Certification Program, which involved King George and Stafford counites and the City of Fredericksburg to allow the University of Mary Washington to establish a cybersecurity preparatory program to train Certified Information Systems Security Professionals (CISSP).
- Shihadeh Innovation Center for Career and Technical Education, which involved Clarke County and the City of Winchester to allow the renovation of a former elementary school to establish academies of professional skill, health sciences, and information technology.
- Catalyst Accelerator Program, which involved Albemarle County and the City of Charlottesville to create support services to up to 20 high potential companies in collaboration with the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.
- Great Opportunities in Technology and Engineering Courses (GO-TEC) Phase II, which involved the Counties of Cumberland, Greensville, Halifax, Henry, Mecklenburg, Patrick, Pittsylvania, Prince Edward, and Nottoway and the Cities of Dansville and Martinsville to build a regional workforce training system beginning with middle school students. Full funding was approved, contingent on the success of a scaled model after one year.
The complete list can be found here.
The Board also approved FY 2020 Capacity Building match recommendations to waive the 1:1 match requirement and the recommendations to create Per Capita FY 2020 Allocation for Regions 1,3, and 9 of $1 million.
GO Virginia also administratively approved four proposals from three regions up to $100,000 aimed at enhanced capacity building. The four projects were:
- Ignite Internship Program Expansion submitted by Region 2 on behalf of the United Way of Southwest Virginia. This proposal expands to Giles and Pulaski County and the City of Radford a previously approved project to align school curriculums with local employer needs by building a web-based platform to encourage post-secondary attainment, streamline workforce credentialing, and provide work-based learning opportunities.
- Virginia’s Growth Region (VGR) Site Readiness submitted by Region 4. VGR will work with an engineering firm to characterize 89 sites identified by the Virginia Business Ready Sites Program in Dinwiddie, Prince George, Sussex, and Surry Counties and the Cities of Colonial Heights, Hopewell, and Petersburg to develop a plan for advancing the sites to Tier 4 Infrastructure Ready Status.
- Hampton Roads Coalition for Talent Development submitted by Region 5. This proposal subsidizes personnel and operations to establish implementation and communication plans for business leaders and regional workforce providers from 14 localities in the Hampton Roads area to identify and address regional needs.
- Accomack-Northampton Sewer and Sites Study submitted by Region 5 on behalf of the Accomack-Northampton Planning District Council. This proposal will help fund contract services and project oversight for the completion of the Eastern Shore Main Force Sewer Transmission line study and identify more than 25 sites for possible development.
Lastly, the Board received a presentation from Christy Morton, Vice President, External Affairs at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) on their Virginia Business Ready Sites Program (VBSRP). This program was created in 2015 to identify and assess readiness of development sites across the Commonwealth after an estimated 47 high-profile projects totaling approximately $6.5 billion in capital investment were lost to other states. The program assesses existing levels of readiness for development and targets development efforts to move identified sites to higher tiers of readiness. The five tiers of site characterization range from Tier 1 (raw land with an interested seller) to Tier 5 (shovel ready, permits in place). To date, less than 20 percent of 25+ acre sites in Virginia have been characterized. Using new funding, VEDP plans to estimate and prioritize site development for all remaining 25+ acre sites they’ve identified, evaluate the economic development potential of the sites, and prioritize sites for investment. The proposed timeline to complete characterization is August 2019.
VACo Contact: Jeremy R. Bennett