United Way of Southwest Virginia: Ignite Internships - $250,000
The United Way of Southwest Virginia will expand their Ignite Internships program throughout the region. The two-year project includes a capacity-building platform that provides activities to encourage post-secondary education, streamlines work credentialing, provides work-based learning opportunities and matches new graduates with local employers through a web-based platform. The expansion addresses an underpinning strategy of the Region One Growth and Diversification Plan by aligning education and training programs with employer demand. GO Virginia funds will be utilized for personnel and contract services for software licensing.
Mountain Empire Community College: Smart Farming at the Center for Workforce & Innovation of Appalachia - $310,372
Located in the Town of Appalachia in the former Appalachia Elementary School, the Center for Workforce & Innovation of Appalachia will be a satellite training facility to enable Mountain Empire Community College to expand many of its existing programs, as well as launch several new programs. The GO Virginia funds will support MECC and its partners to establish the Smart Farming program, focused on using drone technology for agricultural purposes, which will allow the College to expand their Unmanned Systems program. The concept of “Smart Farming” involves the use of technology to improve farming techniques, increase yields, and maximize profits. The program will involve a two-step process of data collection using drone technology and data analysis using the new Agricultural Science Laboratory. The addition of the Smart Farming courses will enable MECC to develop the first Unmanned Aerial Systems Associate Degree program in the Virginia Community College System and the only such program in Region One. As part of the Smart Farming program, the College will establish the first Agricultural Science Lab in the region to provide space and resources to analyze data collected by the UMS program.
Enhanced Capacity Building Projects
Southwest Virginia Technology Council: SWVA Hub Link - $27,547
This capacity building grant will complete initial work on the SWVA Hub Link platform, an online jobs platform and talent connection initiative, where job-seekers will be able to access job and training opportunities in the technology industry. Prior to the build-out of the platform, SWVTC will solicit input from regional stakeholders, including workforce training providers, community colleges, private industry partners, student and job-seekers, etc. in order to determine the most valuable features for the online platform. In addition, SWVTC will establish an inventory of existing training opportunities which would be featured on the platform. GO Virginia funds will be used to hire a contractor to conduct the planning and stakeholder engagement work.
Virginia Tech: Coal to Graphene Market Study - $25,000
Virginia Tech will conduct a market study, initial environmental impact analysis, and cost projections for the development of a graphene economy in Southwest Virginia. Graphene is a thin, lightweight, and flexible form of carbon with extraordinary thermal and electrical conductivity. Virginia Tech’s Institute of Critical Technology and Applied Science has developed a method of manufacturing graphene from coal at a significantly reduced cost from what is currently available. Virginia Tech will partner with EnviraCarbon, which recently relocated their headquarters and R&D facilities to Wise County, on scaling up this production process for industrial applications, which align with several targeted clusters. GO Virginia funds will be used to procure a consultant to complete the study.