Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced that the Friends of Southwest Virginia received a $275,000 Partnership for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) implementation grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) for the Southwest Virginia RESOURCE-FULL project. This project aims to accelerate regional efforts to diversify the economy of Southwest Virginia. The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is also awarding $75,000 to the project to bring the total investment up to $350,000.
Speaking about today’s announcement, Governor McAuliffe said, “Growing the economy and creating economic opportunity in Southwest Virginia will take a regional approach that leverages every available resource. I am proud of the strides we are making bringing new investment to the region and supporting smart strategies for continued growth. This federal funding, along with the continued support of the Appalachian Regional Commission, will boost our efforts to bring the new Virginia economy to Southwest.”
RESOURCE-FULL is a consortium approach to workforce and economic development in Southwest Virginia that incorporates both traditional and innovative strategies in a holistic approach to restore economic prosperity and address the negative impacts of the decline of the coal industry on the region. POWER Implementation grants fund existing economic development plans and strategies that address one or more of the following economic benefits including local/regional economic diversification, re-employment opportunities for dislocated coal industry employees, attracting new investment for job creation and workforce development.
“Among Southwest Virginia’s biggest assets are its beautiful outdoor attractions, including rivers, mountains with beautiful vistas and countless trails,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones. “This project leverages these tourism assets for business opportunities for entrepreneurs and small businesses, helping to grow the economy and contribute to the great quality of life in the region.”
This project will focus on developing the burgeoning outdoor recreation cluster which diversifies the economy and supports high-quality business and worker recruitment through quality of life enhancements, as well as building local community revenue sources through tourism and entrepreneurship opportunities. The grant will also support entrepreneurial and small business development in the region. The Friends of Southwest Virginia are the lead applicant on the project and will work with various partners across the region including educational institutions, planning district commissions and others in the business and economic development community.
The U.S. Department of Commerce awarded nearly $10 Million in POWER implementation and planning grants to the first round of grant recipients in 12 states and tribal nations, totaling 26 projects. The designees were selected by an interagency team for the strength of their local economic development strategies and the depth of the public-private partnerships in their communities to carry out their local plans. POWER is led by the EDA and aligns the resources of four federal agencies, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Labor, the Small Business Administration, and ARC.