Gov. Ralph Northam announced on August 13 that Growth and Opportunity for Virginia (GO Virginia) will award more than $5.5 million to support projects that will help address economic and public health challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The four regional projects and one statewide competitive project receiving funding are focused on strengthening the health sciences workforce pipeline, advancing new renewable energy ventures, and developing a regional services network for entrepreneurs.
Three of the approved projects were funded through the new GO Virginia Economic Resilience and Recovery Program, which is designed to support activities that mitigate the economic impact of the ongoing public health crisis, create or sustain much-needed capacity to support business and industry, and facilitate safe reopening strategies.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought on unprecedented challenges for businesses, and Virginians in every corner of the Commonwealth continue to demonstrate resilience and ingenuity in navigating this health crisis,” said Governor Northam. “These projects represent tremendous opportunities for regional collaboration with resources dedicated to our economic recovery, while staying true to the GO Virginia mission of creating quality jobs and driving positive growth.”
The nine GO Virginia regional councils have developed Growth and Diversification plans and strategies organized around their own unique resources and assets. Initiatives that advance these strategies are key in strengthening each region’s economy and provide critical framework for each region’s response to the economic effects of COVID-19. The grant awards will leverage an additional $7,732,043 in non-state sources to assist with economic diversification and recovery efforts throughout Virginia. The board also approved a new policy that defines the permitted use of Tobacco Regional Revitalization Commission Funds as matching funds for GO Virginia projects. This new policy will go into effect for projects submitted between July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.
“Since its inception, the GO Virginia program has prompted many important regional partnerships,” said Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “In light of the economic impacts of COVID-19, stakeholders and localities in every region are coming together quickly and building off this foundation to create thoughtful initiatives that support their businesses and will help those individuals affected connect with much needed employment opportunities.”
“GO Virginia has created a foundation over the past three years that is allowing regions to rapidly develop high-impact solutions for near-term economic challenges while also focusing on longer term goals and objectives,” added GO Virginia Board Vice Chair Ben Davenport. “This smart new way of thinking is critical as Virginia moves forward through this crisis and beyond.”
Since the program began in 2017, GO Virginia has funded 114 projects and awarded approximately $37.5 million to support regional economic development efforts.
Virginia Tech Workforce Training and COVID-19 Response – $500,000
Region 2: Alleghany, Botetourt, Craig, Giles, Montgomery, Pulaski, and Roanoke counties, and the cities of Covington, Radford, Roanoke, and Salem
The Office of the Vice President for Health Sciences and Technology at Virginia Tech will receive a follow-on GO Virginia grant to increase capacity at the two newly established laboratories in Blacksburg and Roanoke to allow for COVID-19 testing over a one-year period and develop an internship pipeline for full time positions.