A national program that’s spurred leaders and stakeholders in communities throughout Southside Virginia to band together and create partnerships is bearing fruit.
Virginia’s Growth Alliance, a regional economic development organization that includes six counties (Mecklenburg, Brunswick, Lunenburg, Greensville, Charlotte and Nottoway) and one city (Emporia), held a community event in December at Rosemont Vineyards and Winery to introduce its new executive director and talk about the Stronger Economies Together (SET) strategic plan leaders from across the region have developed.
Virginia’s Growth Alliance Vice Chair and Brunswick County Administrator Charlette Woolridge welcomed attendees and introduced Jeff Reed as the organization’s second executive director.
Woolridge said Reed started on Oct. 1 with 20 years of economic development and marketing experience at localities including Danville and Halifax County.
“I keep saying, I’m learning Southside in 30-mile increments,” said Reed. “From Danville to South Boston, and now I’m actually living in Clarksville and have the entire region from Mecklenburg to Greensville and from the Prince Edward County line to the state line. I’m just thrilled to be here and working with all these wonderful people and all the exciting things that are going on.”
Scott Tate, a Virginia Cooperative Extension agent who facilitated many of the strategic planning workshops for Virginia’s Growth Alliance, said Stronger Economies Together is a national program organized and funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
A large crowd from across the region was on hand to hear the update of the Stronger Economies Together (SET) project being coordinated by Virginia's Growth Alliance (VGA).
Download the plan - 92.68mb pdf
Four members of VGA are chairing committees that are working to:
- Attract targeted industries to the region and expand/retain existing regional industries
- Create an atmosphere that will cultivate, support, and expand small business development
- Develop a workforce with 21st Century Competencies for our current and future employers
- Increase awareness of tourism and quality of life aspects of the region through promotion, education and connectivity while maintaining authenticity
Natalie Slate, Greensville County, reported that her committee is focused on the following objectives:
- Aggressively Market to Target Industries
- Market to Supply Chain Industries
- Target Industry Ready Product – Sites and Buildings
- Train Workers in Target Industry Occupations
- Favorable cost of doing business
- Active existing business and industry programs
- Increase regional collaboration
Jan Harrell, City of Emporia, reported that her committee is focused on the following objectives:
- Provide Counseling, Mentoring, Training and Education
- Create an "Entrepreneurial Blueprint" of services
- Provide a Range Business Finance Options
Angie Kellett, Mecklenburg County, reported that her committee is focused on the following objectives:
- Expand Educational/Training Curricula
- Develop Specialized Training
- Market Training to Parents/Citizens
- Improve "Rapid Response Team"
- Communicate Training Needs to Providers
Beverley Hawthorne, Lunenburg County, reported that her committee is focused on the following objectives:
- Educate Residents on Regional Assets
- Market Tourism Assets
- Develop ROI "Markers"
- Develop Small Towns
- Develop Tourism "Product"
VGA is partnering with USDA-Rural Development, VA Tech, Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development and Virginia Tourism in the development and implementation of the SET plan. Citizens from all six of the VGA counties and the City of Emporia have participated in the process over the past seven months. VGA presented a "draft" copy of the regional strategic plan. The team emphasized that the document should be considered a living document and revisited and updated often.
The individual committees will continue to meet and move forward with implementation of the goals and objectives.
Seven localities receive Community Improvement Grants for housing rehabilitation and downtown revitalization projects
RICHMOND - Governor Bob McDonnell announced $1.85 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding for 3 projects in Virginia's Growth Alliance.
"The Community Development Block Grant program provides funding for localities to address numerous issues," said Governor McDonnell. "These projects focus on improving the lives of thousands of Virginians and utilizing all available resources to better our communities throughout Virginia."
Since 1982, the federally-funded CDBG program has been administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), and Virginia receives approximately $17 million annually for this grant program. CDBG grants are awarded through a competitive process. Most projects benefit low- and moderate-income persons, and many projects are targeted for the prevention or elimination of slums and blighting conditions.
During this year's competitive cycle, 35 proposals were submitted by 34 localities, and 11 projects received the initial funding. The Community Development Block Grant Program specifies that funding which has not been obligated or which has been returned from closed projects or cost under-runs by December is to be committed to proposals which did not initially receive funding in that year.
"Through the CDBG program, Virginia addresses issues including housing, economic development, health, safety and more to create great communities to live, work and do business," said DHCD Director Bill Shelton.
2013 CDBG Community Improvement Grant Awards in Virginia's Growth Alliance:
City of Emporia
Belfield Business District Revitalization Project
Town of Blackstone
Church Street Project - Phase II
Town of Chase City
Washington Street Housing Improvement Project
Provides Technical Assistance for Rural Regional Development
USDA Rural Development, in conjunction with Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, Virginia Tourism Corporation, Virginia Tech Office of Economic Development, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the Virginia Association of Counties, and other state and local partners, selected VGA and Northern Neck Chesapeake Bay Region Partnership from eleven other regional teams to be included in a program called "Stronger Economies Together" (SET).
The SET program helped the regional communities develop new approaches to strengthen and enhance regional economic development activities. A variety of participants representing private and public sectors and local citizens from the multi county region received the latest tools, training, and technical assistance to help the region move forward and take advantage of positive growth and quality of life opportunities. The seven month strategic planning training resulted in the creation of an economic development plan reflecting the critical drivers of the region and identifying emerging growth sectors and regional competitive advantages. For complete details and highlights of the process visit http://southernvirginia.wordpress.com/category/set-minutes/
The goals and strategies will be presented on December 5. Upon final adoption, the plan will be posted on VGA's website.
Over 50 business and community leaders came together in the last half of 2012 and the first half of 2013 to develop a strategic plan for the Virginia's Growth Alliance region. The fruits for that effort will be released to the public on December 5th.
VGA was one of the two multi-county regions in Virginia selected to participate in a national program "Stronger Economies Together" (SET) sponsored by the US Department of Agriculture. The initiative is designed to help regional, multi-county teams develop new approaches to strengthen and enhance regional economic development activities. Virginia Cooperative Extension served as the lead entity, coordinating the involvement of a number of federal, state, and local partners in working with VGA to implement the program. Partners included USDA Rural Development, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, Virginia Tourism Corporation, Virginia Tech Office of Economic Development and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.
In your role as a community leader, we appreciate your support of Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center (SVRMC). Today, I am excited to share with you good news about our hospital. Thanks to the quality care provided by our medical staff and employees, SVRMC has earned the distinction of being named one of the nation's Top Performers on Key Quality Measures® by The Joint Commission for 2012.
This important designation recognizes hospitals that are effectively using evidence-based clinical processes shown to improve care for certain conditions, including heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, surgical care, children's asthma, stroke and venous thrombo embolism, as well as inpatient psychiatric services. Specifically, our hospital was recognized for the care we provide for heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, and surgical care.
This is just the latest positive development at SVRMC. These are some of the other developments that have happened over the last year at our hospital:
- Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center earned The Joint Commission's Gold Seal of Approval® for accreditation by demonstrating compliance with The Joint Commission's national standards for health care quality and safety in hospitals.
- By demonstrating compliance with The Joint Commission's national standards for health care quality and safety in laboratories, Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center Laboratory Services earned The Joint Commission's Gold Seal of Approval® for accreditation.
- We continue to be one of the area's largest private employers, with 330 dedicated healthcare practitioners and employees who serve this community.
- Last year, Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center contributed $516,328.00 n to our community in the form of local and state taxes and provided 11.7 million in uncompensated care for those who were unable to pay.
On behalf of our board of directors, we appreciate your support. It is our privilege to provide our community with quality care close to home.
Chief Executive Officer