Blackstone Accredited National Main StreetBlackstone, Virginia (04/24/19) - Downtown Blackstone, Inc. has been designated as an accredited Main Street America™ program for meeting rigorous performance standards set by the National Main Street Center.

Each year, the National Main Street Center and its partners announce the list of accredited Main Street America programs to recognize their exemplary commitment to preservation-based economic development and community revitalization through the Main Street Approach™

“We are proud to acknowledge this year’s 840 nationally accredited Main Street America programs that have worked tirelessly to strengthen their communities. These programs deserve recognition for generating impressive economic returns, preserving community character, and celebrating local history. Main Street America Accredited communities are part of a powerful movement of change-makers, and their dedication to improving quality of life in the place they call home is inspiring,” said Patrice Frey, President & CEO of the National Main Street Center.

Commonwealth aims to increase local food purchases to at least $22 million by 2022

RICHMOND—Virginia First Lady Pamela Northam, Secretary of Education Atif Qarni, and Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring are calling on the Commonwealth's school nutrition programs to increase annual statewide local food purchases to at least $22 million by 2022. Mrs. Northam announced the goal last month in Hampton during the annual Virginia Farm-to-School Conference.

"Serving locally grown food products in our schools is a great opportunity to connect our exceptional agricultural resources with Virginia's greatest resource—our children," said First Lady Northam. "Children benefit from wholesome and fresh food to nourish their growing brains and bodies while learning the importance of agriculture and food production in their communities and across Virginia."

Local food purchases by Virginia schools have at least doubled since 2014, from $7.7 million, to $15.4 million in 2017, the most recent year for which data are available. The Virginia Department of Education and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) attribute much of the growth to the increasing popularity of farm-to-school programs that connect schools and students to local farmers and food producers.

Programs offer financial rewards to Virginia schools, scholarships for college students

Governor Ralph Northam today announced that registration is now open for the 2019 Girls Go CyberStart program, which aims to support and inspire high school girls across Virginia to explore careers in cybersecurity and computer science.

"As a national leader in the cybersecurity and technology industry it is vital that we encourage Virginia students to take advantage of opportunities to explore cybersecurity and computer science," said Governor Northam. "The 2019 Girls Go CyberStart program provides early experience that positions young women across the Commonwealth to step into valuable roles and careers after college."

The Girls Go CyberStart program is an online game consisting of a series of challenges that put students in the role of a cyber protection agent charged with solving realistic problems and puzzles. It is designed to explore relevant and exciting topics such as cryptography and digital forensics.

SVCC's Machining Skills Certification Program will begin at the Southside Virginia Education Center in Emporia on March 11, 2019 and continue through July 12.

Students will earn 4 NIMS (Metalworking) Credentials and OSHA 10 through this 18-week program. The first 6 weeks are online, follwed by 12 weeks in Machining Lab sessions which meet 5 days a week, 8:30am until 4:30pm.

Tuition is $6,700 and FastForward Credentialsfor a Career that Matters may help pay tuition costsfor qualifying Virginians. Additional scholarships may also be available.

For information, contact Erica Randolph at 434-634-9358 or email erica.randolph@southside.edu

7 of VGA's Counties hold a Certificate of Authorization from the FAA and are part of Central Virginia's Beyond Horizon Corridor testing environment. Virginia was recently in the news for testing of a revolutionary new unmanned flying taxi.

Boeing flying car Unmanned Aerial Sytems testing in VirginiaSEATTLE (Reuters) - Boeing Co <BA.N> said on Wednesday its flying car prototype hovered briefly in the air during an inaugural test flight, a small but significant step as the world's largest planemaker bids to revolutionize urban transportation and parcel delivery services.

Boeing is competing with arch-rival Airbus SE <AIR.PA> and numerous other firms to introduce small self-flying vehicles capable of vertical takeoff and landing.

The investments, fueled by leaps in autonomous technology as much as frustration with road congestion, could change the face of the aerospace industry within the next decade.

~Microsoft investment and expansion will create more than 100 new jobs 

RICHMOND - Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Microsoft Corporation, one of the largest and most influential companies in the world, will inject significant capital investment to expand its enterprise data center in Mecklenburg County. The project is Microsoft's sixth expansion at the facility since 2010 and will allow the company to further enhance its ability to serve customers in the U.S. and across the globe. Virginia successfully competed against multiple states for this significant investment, which will create more than 100 new jobs.

"When Microsoft established its new enterprise data center in 2010, it represented the largest economic investment in southern Virginia history, and we have been thrilled to see the company continue expanding in the Commonwealth ever since," said Governor Northam. "Microsoft's sustained investment in Virginia has created hundreds of new jobs for our citizens and advanced our position as a leader in information technology. We thank Microsoft for its tremendous contribution to the economies of Mecklenburg County and to the Commonwealth as a whole."