Southwest Virginia Teachers tour Mohawk Industries as part of the IGNITE program, Oct. 2017, file photo
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam Tuesday announced five regional projects funded through GO Virginia (Growth and Opportunity for Virginia) grants totaling $1,115,300, including $250,000 for Region 1. Those funds will go to the United Way of Southwest Virginia to help expand the IGNITE program.
The Ignite Program helps bridge the gap between the worlds of learning and work by connecting schools and students with employers and employees.
That program aligns school curricula with local employer needs. The United Way of Southwest Virginia will expand a web‐based platform to deliver activities that will encourage post‐secondary education and streamlined workforce credentialing, provide work‐based learning opportunities and match new graduates with local employers.
Key members of the Governor’s cabinet, the General Assembly and the business community approved the GO Virginia regional per capita grant funds for projects across the Commonwealth. These grants are for projects each region identified as vital to their efforts to diversify the regional economy, strengthen their workforce and support collaborative programs between localities, public entities and private businesses.
“GO Virginia is inspiring the innovative thinking that will help to push Virginia’s economy forward,” said Northam. “It is encouraging to see how coordination between the state and our higher-education partners is helping businesses take their operations to the next level and to create opportunities in every region of the Commonwealth.”
The GO Virginia per capita grant funds will be used to implement projects that align with each region’s Growth and Diversification Plans. These plans provide an honest assessment of the economic, workforce and structural barriers in the region, as well as the existing regional economic drivers and potential growth sectors in each region. Projects that address these challenges and opportunities are the first step toward the creation of higher paying jobs in the regions.
“The Commonwealth’s approach to economic development is forward-thinking, focused and in tune with national and global trends, which is clearly reflected in the projects that were approved today,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Esther Lee. “GO Virginia is an innovative approach that supports the best opportunities for creating higher-paying jobs in every region of Virginia.”
“The nine GO Virginia regions have been working diligently over the last year to drive innovative projects that address each region’s specific workforce economic development needs,” said GO Virginia Board Chairman John O. “Dubby” Wynne. “The third round of projects and, approved today, are the latest examples of the regions’ hard work. We are particularly pleased with the level of private sector participation and collaboration in the development of these projects and the opportunities they will bring to people across the state.
The regional per capita funding is awarded on a rolling basis by the state GO Virginia Board based on the regional application processes. The first round of statewide competitive grants are expected to be awarded in June 2018.
The GO Virginia Board approved five projects from three regions. This will leverage $3.2 million in non-state sources to assist with economic diversification throughout Virginia. Local governments have committed nearly $800,000 toward the five projects.