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.
Carroll County IDA: Southwest Virginia Livestock & Educational Center - $100,000
The Southwest Virginia Livestock & Educational Center is a joint effort of the Agricultural Education Departments of the City of Galax, 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.
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.
LENOWISCO Planning District Commission: Lonesome Pine RIFA Coordinator - $50,000
The LENOWISCO Planning District Commission, on behalf of the Lonesome Pine Rural Industrial Facilities Authority (LPRIFA), will establish 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.
Appalachian Voices: The Solar Jobs, Manufacturing and Utility-Scale Investment Playbook for Far Southwest Virginia - $70,947
Appalachian Voices on behalf of the Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia, will develop the The Solar Jobs, Manufacturing and Utility-Scale Investment Playbook for Far Southwest Virginia. Building on the Southwest Virginia SolSmart designation and 2017 Solar Roadmap for SWVA, 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. GO Virginia funds will assist with expenses for personnel and contract services.
InvestSWVA: Project Oasis - $50,000
Project Oasis is a major initiative of InvestSWVA, a newly-created public-private partnership focused on driving economic sustainability in Region One around industry clusters featured in the region’s Growth and Diversification Plan. LENOWISCO PDC will work with InvestSWVA, Coalfield Strategies LLC, Virginia’s Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME), and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) to locate the suitable sites within the region to attract data centers. This study will result in: 1) the development of tools that prioritize power and fiber network availability and the potential of mine pool water reclamation, 2) a preliminary engineering feasibility and design, 3) a market analysis, 5) tenant research, and 6) a concept design for possible data center sites. GO Virginia funds will be used for contract services related to site selection analysis, concept design, market analysis, and tenant research. Wise County and the City of Norton are participating.
Regional Entrepreneurship Initiative
Opportunity SWVA / UVA Wise - $80,000
Opportunity SWVA with UVA Wise will collaborate to develop the Launch SWVA Region 1 Strategy for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Investment. Opportunity SWVA is a coalition of twenty-six small business support and community development organizations, which is optimal for coordinating the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. This Innovation Investment plan will build upon the TEConomy report and develop an action plan to implement recommendations for Region One. GO Virginia funds will be utilized for consultant services and coordination meetings.