In 2016, the General Assembly created the Virginia Growth and Opportunity (GO VA) Board and Fund. The Board is a policy arm in the executive branch of state government promoting collaborative regional economic and workforce development opportunities and activities. The Fund is a nonreverting account in the state treasury that facilitates regional collaboration on economic growth and diversification through strategic economic and workforce development efforts.
On April 10, the GO VA Board approved five regional applications totaling over $1.1 million to address strategic needs in talent development, infrastructure development, and commercialization. The approved projects will leverage $3.2 million in additional resources. To view the 2018 Round 3 Regional Per Capita Grant Awards, please click here. In addition, the GO VA Board approved 18 projects with $5 million in state funds, leveraging $8.5 million in additional resources.
The Board awards allotted funds to certain projects and oversees the nine regional councils who approve the projects. Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) staff provide recommendations to the Board for project approval. For localities having trouble meeting regional council local match requirements, DHCD Director Erik Johnston suggested setting aside reserve dollars naming Loudon’s approval of $200,000 and Henrico’s approval of $50,000 as examples.
Going forward, the Board will prioritize funding to support joint site development and the startup ecosystem to ensure Virginia’s competitive position in the 21st century economy. Specifically, the Board seeks to develop a template for the projects, and hire an outside consultant through available funds. This would be much like what the Virginia Research Investment Committee (VRIC) has done to respond to the report developed by their consultant, TEConomy Partners. VRIC will address the recommendations strategically through their new Implementation Advisory Team.
Developing the template and funding the projects for the two areas will align with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) Business Ready Sites Program. Here, eligible sites are more than 100 acres in size and must be approved through the regional councils. Utilizing a consultant, the Board can conduct site development analysis and review best practices. Additionally, each region will have a consultant to build an application template.
In addition, GO VA developed guidelines for the Collaborative Economic Development Act. Funding incentivizes economic development collaborations between at least two localities and share local revenues associated with the project. Eligible projects create at minimum 200 jobs at least equal to the average wage in the region and include a capital investment of $25 million. The threshold can be lowered to 25 jobs and $1 million in investment for areas of fiscal distress or extraordinary economic opportunity. VEDP provides recommendations to the Board for project approval.
Two pieces of legislation impacting the Board were signed into law during the 2018 General Assembly Session. HB 1467 (Jones, S.C.) removes the Secretary of Technology and adds the Secretary of Commerce and Trade to VRIC. And, HB 1583 (Byron) establishes the position of the Chief Broadband Advisor.
Additional business carried out by the Board included amending grant scoring guideline exceptions for the statewide competitive pool fund for certain proposals that align with priorities in multiple Growth and Diversification plans and authorizes funding for studies of significant impact to the Commonwealth. The Board also approved a new policy to establish a process for authorizing expenditures and disbursements of GO VA funds.
VACo Contact: Khaki LaRiviere