Parties interested in applying for Virginia Initiative for Growth and Opportunity (GO VA) grants were walked through the process by the regional program director at a Monday event in Abingdon. Robyn Lee had good news for the gathered individuals, including the fact that this year, more money is available to Region One (Southwest Virginia) than was available last year.
There are two main pools of money from which applicants can receive funding. The first is given on a region-by-region basis. That money was delivered on a per capita basis last year, Lee said. Since Region One is the least populous region in the Commonwealth, it got the least per capita money, around $500,000. This year, however, “the per capita funds are distributed with a minimum of $1 million to each region,” Lee said. Because there is roll-over from one year to the next, the currently available pool for per capita grants in Region One is now around $1.4 million.
The second pool is made available through a process in which projects nominated from all regions compete for funds. While the total funding for that pool actually dropped from $11.3 million last year to $10.94 million this year, the fact that no funds were awarded last year means the total pool is now around $22 million.
“The key industry targets for Region One are energy and minerals – and this does go beyond just coal, information technology and other technologies, advanced manufacturing, and agriculture and food and beverage manufacturing,” Lee said.
Potential applicants also heard the criteria they must meet in order to be eligible for funding. Successful applicants will align with those industry targets, while creating collaboration between two or more communities in Southwest Virginia, committing non-state matching dollars, generating new spending in the region (not just recirculating existing dollars) and creating private sector jobs with an annual average wage greater than $33,864.