The Virginia Growth and Opportunity (GO VA) Board met to approve new capital requests, evaluate proposed regional budgets, and strategize to grow the Board focus areas of site readiness and the start-up ecosystem. Voting to approve Board leadership for the coming year, the Board selected John O. “Dubby” Wynne as Chair and Ben J. Davenport Jr. as Vice Chair.
In total, GO VA received $63.9 million over the biennium. With an additional $15 million in the budget, Chair Wynne is now pushing to see more results from regional councils in the coming fall.
To facilitate more collaboration and coordination at the regional level, Chair Wynne advocated for more flexible funding for localities. The Code requires all GO VA funding to be matched $1:1 by non-state funding, but new budget language authorized the Board to waive the match requirements. Before the waiver, each regional council was required to match $250,000 – now only the additional $1 million, equating to $111,000 per region, requires a local match of $2:1. For every $2 in GO VA capacity building funds, regions put up $1 in non-state matching funds. So, regional councils will have to revise their budgets up to $361,111. Board members also expect a breakout of fund expenditures to include how much is apportioned for administrative overhead versus facilitating regional partnerships.
The waiver does not apply to capacity building funds, only per capita and competitively funded projects. New budget language allowed the Board to shift $1.4 million from the competitive pool to the per capita distribution, raising the $1 million floor.
In the area of cybersecurity workforce development, the budget adds $20 million for the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative housed at Virginia Tech. The initiative is expected to develop partnerships among Virginia universities to strengthen the talent pool. The Virginia Research Investment Committee (VRIC) maintained its $8 million funding for each year, carrying over $5 million from the previous year to be allocated for a new research center at Virginia Tech. VRIC Chair and Director of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia Peter Blake is putting together an ad hoc workgroup to oversee the cyber initiative.
In the third round of capital grants, the Board approved three projects in the area of talent and workforce development – the Westmoreland County Welding Training Program from Region 6 received $130,000; the Blue Ridge Community College Cybersecurity Workforce Development and Jobs Program in Region 8 received $200,000; and, the Piedmont Virginia Community College Higher Paying Jobs and Adult Beverage Exports program from Region 9 received $249,472.
For additional information, please view the June Board packet here. Please note that the recommendation in the packet varies slightly from the Board-approved reduced match for the $111,000 in FY 2019.
On July 10 from 9-11am, the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) will host a How-to-Apply Webinar for GO VA funds for the per capita and competitive grants. The webinar will provide an introduction to the GO VA program design, the funding priorities for each region, and a step-by-step overview of the application process, project requirements and best practices. To register, please click this link.
VACo Contact: Khaki LaRiviere