|Growth and Opportunity for Virginia (GO Virginia) will award more than $5.5 million to support projects that will help address economic and public health challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gov. Ralph Northam said the four regional projects and one statewide competitive project receiving funding are focused on strengthening the health sciences workforce pipeline, advancing new renewable energy ventures, and developing a regional services network for entrepreneurs.
Three of the approved projects were funded through the new GO Virginia Economic Resilience and Recovery Program, which is designed to support activities that mitigate the economic impact of the ongoing public health crisis, create or sustain much-needed capacity to support business and industry, and facilitate safe reopening strategies.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought on unprecedented challenges for businesses, and Virginians in every corner of the Commonwealth continue to demonstrate resilience and ingenuity in navigating this health crisis,” said Northam. “These projects represent tremendous opportunities for regional collaboration with resources dedicated to our economic recovery, while staying true to the GO Virginia mission of creating quality jobs and driving positive growth.”
The nine GO Virginia regional councils have developed Growth and Diversification plans and strategies organized around their own unique resources and assets. Initiatives that advance these strategies are key in strengthening each region’s economy and provide critical framework for each region’s response to the economic effects of COVID-19. The grant awards will leverage an additional $7,732,043 in non-state sources to assist with economic diversification and recovery efforts throughout Virginia. The board also approved a new policy that defines the permitted use of Tobacco Regional Revitalization Commission Funds as matching funds for GO Virginia projects. This new policy will go into effect for projects submitted between July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.
“Since its inception, the GO Virginia program has prompted many important regional partnerships,” said Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “In light of the economic impacts of COVID-19, stakeholders and localities in every region are coming together quickly and building off this foundation to create thoughtful initiatives that support their businesses and will help those individuals affected connect with much needed employment opportunities.”
“GO Virginia has created a foundation over the past three years that is allowing regions to rapidly develop high-impact solutions for near-term economic challenges while also focusing on longer term goals and objectives,” added GO Virginia Board Vice Chair Ben Davenport. “This smart new way of thinking is critical as Virginia moves forward through this crisis and beyond.”
Since the program began in 2017, GO Virginia has funded 114 projects and awarded approximately $37.5 million to support regional economic development efforts.
GENEDGE – Retooling Virginia Manufacturers for Strategic Industries
All GO Virginia Regions
GENEDGE will expand the capabilities of existing Virginia manufacturers to develop sustainable ongoing revenues in the areas of personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as other medical equipment and supplies. This imitative will help manufacturers diversify markets and product offerings in response to federal initiatives that support re-shoring critical and strategic sectors, intentionally reducing sourcing risk.
Virginia Tech Workforce Training and COVID-19 Response
Region 2: Alleghany, Botetourt, Craig, Giles, Montgomery, Pulaski, and Roanoke counties, and the cities of Covington, Radford, Roanoke, and Salem
The Office of the Vice President for Health Sciences and Technology at Virginia Tech will receive a follow-on GO Virginia grant to increase capacity at the two newly established laboratories in Blacksburg and Roanoke to allow for COVID-19 testing over a one-year period and develop an internship pipeline for full time positions.
Bridge to Recovery
Region 3: Amelia, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Greensville (Region 4), Halifax, Henry, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, Patrick, Pittsylvania, and Prince Edward counties, and the cities of Danville, Emporia (Region 4), Farmville, and Martinsville
The Southern Virginia Regional Alliance and the Virginia Growth Alliance are leading a comprehensive and collaborative approach with a coalition of economic developers, chambers of commerce, and localities to provide technical assistance and subsidize support to key business sectors during the pandemic and help prepare them for the recovery steps ahead.
Offshore Wind Supply Chain Hub Development
Region 5: Isle of Wight and Southampton counties, and the cities of Chesapeake, Franklin, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach
The Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance, in partnership with the Port of Virginia, the Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy, Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Old Dominion University, and local chambers of commerce, will build an offshore wind supply chain by targeting and attracting suppliers to establish operations in the region.
Startup Shenandoah Valley
Region 8: Augusta, Bath, Clarke, Frederick, Highland, Page, Rockbridge, Rockingham, Shenandoah, and Warren counties, the cities of Buena Vista, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Staunton, Waynesboro, and Winchester, and the towns of Front Royal and Strasburg
The Staunton Creative Community Fund will kick start a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem that will deliver dedicated staff, partnerships with regional assets, workspaces, connections to mentorship, and access to capital to companies with a high potential for growth and success.