Three Regional Proposals Recommended for Funding to GO Virginia State Board

The GO Virginia Region One Council, at their May 7, 2019 meeting at the Bristol Virginia School Board Office, approved recommendations of three project proposals for Per Capita grant funding totaling $220,947.24.

The LENOWISCO Planning District Commission, on behalf of the Lonesome Pine Rural Industrial Facilities Authority (LPRIFA), submitted a $50,000 enhanced capacity building proposal to support a 24-month coordinator position to manage two federally funded projects of the LPRIFA; Project Intersection and Project Homestead. Consisting of the counties of Lee, Scott, Wise, Dickenson, and the City of Norton, the LPRIFA is a collaborative entity formed to provide a mechanism for the localities to cooperate on economic development projects to assist the region in overcoming geographic and financial barriers to economic growth. Overall, the proposed position will further the LPRIFA organizational structure and establish the self-sustainability of the LPRIFA by facilitating increased economic development opportunities, which will create more prospects for regional revenue sharing.

Another enhanced capacity building proposal for $70,947.24 was submitted by Appalachian Voices on behalf of the Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia, a collaborative effort of county governments, school districts, community colleges, planning districts, state agencies, industry, nonprofits and interested citizens that is utilizing solar industry development in the region as an economic catalyst. Building on the Southwest Virginia SolSmart designation, the proposal requests funds to develop The Solar Jobs, Manufacturing and Utility-Scale Investment Playbook for Far Southwest Virginia. The Playbook will be a highly actionable, data-based analysis that identifies specific pathways for large-scale solar-related investment and employment opportunities in Southwest Virginia. The Playbook will include a detailed market analysis and local asset-leveraging resources to attract and retain significant investments in the solar supply chain related to manufacturing and utility-scale solar developments. The market analysis will inform a workforce training and credential gap assessment, which will identify current and future credentialing needs, and how those needs may be addressed either through existing or new training and certification pathways. Once released, the Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia will partner with localities and the solar industry to ensure implementation of the Playbook.

The Carroll County Industrial Development Authority submitted a $100,000 implementation proposal for the Southwest Virginia Livestock Educational Center, a joint effort of the Agricultural Education Departments of Carroll County and Grayson County schools, a consortium of local cattle producers and the Virginia Cooperative Extension. The project will establish an educational and working facility to be located on a 42 acre location, with proximity to interstates I-77 and I-81 and the wholesale Southwest Virginia Farmers Market. In its initial phase, the Southwest Virginia Livestock Educational Center will serve multiple purposes as a hands-on educational facility for local agriculture students and 4H programs and a safe, controlled working facility where both students and local livestock producers can work their herds, receive veterinary services, and grade and sell livestock locally. The project is expected to provide students with increased awareness and opportunities for scholarships to continue their education and local employment in the agriculture sector through internship opportunities. In addition, benefits for the producers can include improved health and genetics of herds, higher certified weights at time of sale and significantly higher sale prices for herds. The GO Virginia proposal includes a funding request to support the project with expenses for equipment for the facility.

“The Council was pleased to consider the three proposals, which were very diverse in nature,” said Mike Quillen, chair of the Region One Council. “One is focused on site development opportunities and is looking at providing support for two substantial regional projects that have secured $10M in funding. Solar opportunities are starting to spur in the region and the Playbook could be a valuable resource for localities when working with the solar industry. Lastly, the Southwest Virginia Livestock Educational Center has huge support from the private sector and has the potential to impact the agriculture industry by engaging the region’s younger generation.”

The two enhanced capacity building proposals will be submitted to the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), the support organization for the GO Virginia State Board, for evaluation and administrative approval. The Southwest Virginia Livestock Educational Center proposal will undergo evaluation by DHCD and will be submitted to the GO Virginia State Board for review at their June 24 meeting.

The GO Virginia Region One Council also accepted nominations of three new members to the Council. New members include Bill Rush of Smyth County with RESM Enterprises, LLC, Blake Edwards of Grayson County with Skyline National Bank, and Browning Wynn II of Lee County with Powell Valley National Bank. Chairman Quillen welcomed the new members to the Council and recognized former members going off the Council including Kyra Bishop, Allan Funk, and the late George Cridlin.

The GO Virginia Region One Council accepts applications for Per Capita Grant funding on a rolling basis. The next deadline for applications to be considered by the Region One Council is July 8, 2019. The GO Virginia Region One Council will review applications at their next meeting, scheduled for August 6, 2019 at 10:00 AM at the Dickenson Center for Education and Research in Clintwood, VA. For more information, visit the Region One website at www.goswva.org or contact Robyn Lee at rlee@uvawise.edu.