Regional Project Recommended for Funding to GO Virginia State Board

At its Aug. 6, 2019 meeting at the Dickenson Center for Education and Research in Clintwood, the GO Virginia Region One Council approved a Per Capita funding recommendation in the amount of $50,000.00 for the InvestSWVA proposal, Project Oasis.

InvestSWVA is the newly-created Southwest Virginia Regional Marketing Initiative covering the Region One footprint. The initiative is managed by Coalfield Strategies, LLC and is overseen by an advisory board of regional leadership, including the Southwest Virginia legislative delegation, Point Broadband, Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, as well as the regional planning district commissions. InvestSWVA is focused on supporting regional economic development partners and collaborating with the Commonwealth to market business investment opportunities in Southwest Virginia. The initiative is focused on industry clusters in Region One and targeting its efforts on attracting and retaining young talent to the region with an emphasis on high-tech jobs.
 
A major initiative of InvestSWVA is Project Oasis, a site and infrastructure development focused project seeking to provide third-party validation for GO Virginia Region One to be home to traditional data centers as well as innovative facilities capable of being cooled by mine pool water circulation. Considered an enhanced capacity building project, Project Oasis encompasses five main areas of work: site selection and mapping of power and fiber network availability to previously mined lands throughout Region One, engineering feasibility and design to determine the feasibility of mine pool water circulation used to augment data center cooling, mine stability analysis to determine the impact of water circulation stress on mine stability, site selection and mapping of sites with mine pool water availability and market analysis to develop a business strategy to attract data centers to the region.

“Project Oasis will enable Southwest Virginia to showcase itself as a location of choice for data centers based on our infrastructure and innovative, cost-saving renewable energy applications,” said Will Payne, Managing Partner of Coalfield Strategies and project lead for InvestSWVA. “I credit our legislative delegation for thinking big on this project, so that we can act boldly on behalf of the region.”

“The Region One Council was excited to approve this innovative approach to diversifying the region’s economy,” said Mike Quillen, chair of the Region One Council. “The scope of work involved in the project could be a valuable tool to better position the region for data center expansion and it supports existing efforts already underway to improve regional sites.”

The Project Oasis proposal 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. If approved by DHCD, the GO Virginia State Board will review the proposal at its Sept. 10 meeting.

At the same meeting, the GO Virginia Region One Council also approved the 2019 GO Virginia Region One Growth and Diversification Plan update. The Region One Growth and Diversification Plan identifies and prioritizes economic opportunities, needs and challenges facing the region and is designed to assist the regional council in evaluating which potential projects best address the identified priorities. It outlines the needed enhancements where GO Virginia grant funds may support collaborative programs between at least two or more localities that will lead to the creation of higher paying jobs. This plan guides the regional council’s work to develop talent pipelines, grow existing businesses, encourage the entrepreneurial activity of the region and advance joint site and infrastructure development.

Developed through a collaborative process, the 2019 Region One Growth and Diversification Plan represents an update to the original plan released in 2017, providing adjusted priorities in some areas as well as an evaluation of progress and challenges encountered over the past two years. Industry sectors in Region One that have the best potential to grow and create higher paying jobs remain the same as introduced in the 2017 plan. These include advanced manufacturing, agriculture and food/beverage manufacturing, information and emerging technologies, and energy and minerals. Region One’s growth strategies also remain relatively the same with minor updates to streamline strategies with the GO Virginia State Board. The strategy framework includes talent development, sites and infrastructure, and innovation and scale up support. The 2019 Region One Growth and Diversification Plan can be accessed on the Region One website at www.goswva.org.

The Region One Council also accepted a nomination for Todd Elswick of Paul’s Fan Company in Buchanan County to replace former council member Joe Street who resigned in May. Additional approvals included nominations for Moir Beamer to serve as Vice Chair and Mike Quillen to remain chairman during fiscal year 2020.

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 Sept. 23, 2019. The GO Virginia Region One Council will review applications at their next meeting, scheduled for Oct. 22, 2019. For more information, visit the Region One website or contact Robyn Lee at rlee@uvawise.edu.