The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development approved two Economic Resilience and Recovery Fast Access applications for Appalachian Sustainable Development and Virginia’s Industrial Advancement Alliance on Friday, June 26, 2020.
Appalachian Sustainable Development’s (ASD) Farmer Pipeline: Maintaining the Supply Chain by Growing Farmers application, approved at $99,996.00 in response to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, will assist regional farmers by offering digital tools that may open up new market opportunities, increase product visibility, and enable the coordination of distribution and logistics.
ASD is partnering with the GO Virginia Regional Council, Town of Grundy, Town of Jonesville, Town of Pennington Gap, Cumberland Plateau Planning District, The Sweetberry Project Permaculture Farm, Cosmic Bloom Farmschool, Robbins Family Farms, R&L Farms, additional regional local farmers, and other regional partners.
Through the one-year life of the project, ASD anticipates implementing five online platforms, training 30 farmers, recruiting 60 job seekers and aspiring gardeners, enrolling 60 existing farmers in required certifications, and having 80 farmers upskilled in digital agricultural trade tools.
“ASD has been building local and regional food systems since 1995. Never before have we seen such an awareness of the need for farmers to diversify their markets and for all of us to have access to locally produced, fresh, healthy food. The COVID-19 pandemic has made everyone more aware of the vulnerability of our national food supply chains, resulting in a growing understanding of the value and resilience of our local food systems. We are seeing a huge surge in support for the work ASD has been doing for 25 years to keep farmers farming and keep families fed. This grant from GO Virginia enables farmers to diversify their markets, improve, and streamline operations, while also enabling ASD to deliver training in ways that support social distancing,” said Kathlyn Terry Baker, Executive Director of Appalachian Sustainable Development.
According to Moir Beamer, vice-chair of the GO Virginia Region One Council, “This is a great opportunity for the smaller growers in our region. This project has the potential to help farmers become less vulnerable and possibly create a more reliable revenue source.”
Virginia’s Industrial Advancement Alliance’s (VIAA) Perseverance application approved at $100,000.00 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, will assist small to midsize regional manufacturers by coordinating evaluation and diagnostic services to expedite operation recovery time, mitigate the future spread of COVID-19, increase productivity through process improvement, and possibly expand market opportunities.
VIAA is partnering with the GO Virginia Regional Council, Wytheville Community College, Manufacturing Technology Center, Bland County Board of Supervisors, City of Galax, Carroll County Board of Supervisors, Carroll County Economic Development Authority, Virginia Economic Development Partnership, National Institute of Standards Technology, Smyth County, and other regional economic developers and partners.
Through the five-month life of the project, VIAA anticipates completing 20 evaluations and reports with recommended solutions, having 75% of manufacturers pursue recommended solutions, 90% satisfied with evaluations services, 75% experiencing improved safety and operation efficiencies, and potentially zero new COVID-19 cases transferred within new facilities.
“We are appreciative of the GO Virginia Region One Council’s recognition that our manufacturing companies need assistance with identifying and developing a plan to improve operational health and safety protocol and processes, said Josh Lewis, Director, Virginia’s Industrial Advancement Alliance. “Utilizing this grant in partnership with the Manufacturing Technology Center and Wytheville Community College, we will work directly with companies to strengthen their protection measures and resiliency to infectious disease. This will ensure that we are able to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19 and any future threats to our regional economy.”
Mike Quillen, chair of the GO Virginia Region One Council commented, “Both of these projects focus on two target industries in the Region One footprint, which include agriculture and advanced manufacturing. ASD will be assisting the smaller-scale growers in our region while VIAA will aid with our smaller-scale advanced manufacturing companies to ensure a healthy economic state. The Region One Council looks forward to the positive outcomes of these two projects.”
ABOUT GO VIRGINIA REGION ONE
The Virginia Initiative for Growth and Opportunity (GO Virginia) is a bipartisan, business-led economic development initiative that is changing the way Virginia’s diverse regions collaborate on economic and workforce development activities. The GO Virginia initiative is to promote the creation of high wage careers, private-sector job growth, and diversification across the Commonwealth through incentivized regional collaboration.
GO Virginia Region One represents thirteen counties and three cities in Southwest Virginia; including the counties of Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Dickenson, Grayson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, Wise, and Wythe, and the Cities of Bristol, Galax, and Norton.
For more information about GO Virginia Region One, visit https://www.goswva.org/.
ABOUT APPALACHIAN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Nationally known and respected for its commitment to local farmers, Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD) celebrates its 25th year in 2020. ASD’s mission is to transition Appalachia to a more resilient economy and a healthier population by supporting local agriculture, exploring new economic opportunities and connecting people to healthy food.
Since 1995, Appalachian Sustainable Development has been working in 15 counties in Central Appalachia. ASD’s research has since expanded to include partners in eastern West Virginia and Kentucky and southeast Ohio. ASD uses six strategies to accomplish its work: education, increasing local food production, developing markets, increasing distribution of local agriculture products, engaging strategic partners, and researching/consulting and advising. ASD runs several programs, all focused on the food and agriculture sectors, including programs that help feed hungry people and others that build opportunities for farmers to succeed.
For more information about Appalachian Sustainable Development, visit https://asdevelop.org/, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.
ABOUT VIRGINIA’S INDUSTRIAL ADVANCEMENT ALLIANCE
Virginia’s Industrial Advancement Alliance was formed as a non-profit multi-jurisdictional Regional Economic Development Organization to conduct outreach marketing, prospect development, project management and work with its six localities to support and enhance their economic development efforts.
VIAA represents a region of five counties and one city. Branding the region as ‘Virginia’s I81-I77 Crossroads’, an area stretching from Carroll County to Smyth County along Interstates 81 and 77, the organization membership consists of Smyth, Wythe, Grayson, Carroll and Bland counties, and the City of Galax.
For more information about Virginia’s Industrial Advancement Alliance, visit http://viaalliance.org/.