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Regional Project Recommended for Funding to GO Virginia State Board

At their December 4, 2018 meeting at the Wayne C. Henderson School of Appalachian Arts, the GO Virginia Region One Council approved a Per Capita funding recommendation in the amount of $310,371.84 for the Mountain Empire Community College proposal, entitled Smart Farming at the Center for Workforce and Innovation of Appalachia (CWIA).

Located in the Town of Appalachia in the former Appalachia Elementary School, the CWIA 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 funding request 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. MECC projects that the establishment of the program will create new jobs in the agriculture industry and increase production and profits for existing farmers in the region.

Mountain Empire Community College President, Dr. Kristen Westover stated, “Mountain Empire Community College is honored and excited about the GO Virginia Region One funding opportunity to support the development and creation of new workforce training programs in smart farming and agriculture technology. These funds will support MECC in developing entrepreneurial offerings, purchasing equipment and developing coursework, programming and other new and innovative learning opportunities to enhance the workforce development offerings at the Center for Workforce & Innovation of Appalachia.”

“The Region One Council is pleased to recommend to the State Board the innovative project put forth by Mountain Empire Community College, which addresses specifically one of our industry targets, Food and Beverage Manufacturing," said Mike Quillen, Chair of the Region One Council. “This project will also provide insight to Region One’s other targeted industries through advancement of drone technology and training. Additionally, the project brings revitalization to the Town of Appalachia, re-purposing a vacated educational facility to continuing use and providing certification in a rapidly growing sector.”

The Mountain Empire Community College proposal will be submitted to the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) for further evaluation. The GO Virginia State Board will review the project at their March 12, 2019 meeting.

At their December 11, 2018 meeting, the GO Virginia State Board accepted DHCD’s administrative approval of $25,000 in funding for the Virginia Tech: Coal to Graphene Market Study proposal. This project was previously recommended for funding by the Region One Council in October.

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 January 7, 2019. The GO Virginia Region One Council will review applications at their next meeting, scheduled for February 5, 2019 at 10:00 AM at the Crooked Road Technology Center in Duffield, VA. For more information, visit the Region One website at or contact Robyn Lee at

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