Virginia's new Economic Resilience and Recovery Program aimed at addressing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will give Northern Virginians a new tool in helping get back to work.
The $14.66 million initiative was created through a restructuring of the state's Growth and Opportunity for Virginia (GO Virginia) funding. The program will focus resources on economic resilience and recovery while staying true to the GO Virginia mission of creating higher-paying jobs that strengthen and diversify regional economies.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on our economy, and we must use every asset we have to assist businesses and communities as we rebuild,” Gov. Ralph Northam said in announcing the program. “GO Virginia will be a key partner as we work to spearhead an economic recovery and drive new economic development. Through the Economic Resilience and Recovery program, GO Virginia has been able to pivot and help support these important initiatives throughout the commonwealth.”
The program has already awarded $69,600 to the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce and Northern Virginia Economic Development Alliance to create a Back to Work website and information program.
The initiative is expected to be a “one-stop shop” for businesses in the region. The chamber and alliance have formed a Back to Work Leadership Task Force to launch the website and related resources.
The website will feature information on business continuity, recovery and worker training and retraining, as well as content that specifically addresses business solutions through a webinar series.
The target audience for the site is businesses of all sizes — especially small businesses — as well as job seekers looking for training opportunities that may be necessary for them to return to work. Information will also be available from the partner local governments and educational institutions.
In addition to the Northern Virginia Chamber and the Economic Development Alliance, partners in the project include Northern Virginia Community College; George Mason University; Arlington/Alexandria and Fairfax/Loudoun/Prince William workforce boards; Fairfax, Alexandria, Arlington, Loudoun and Prince William economic development authorities; and the Alexandria, Arlington, Loudoun, Prince William, Dulles Regional and Reston chambers of commerce.
GO Virginia regional councils across the state may apply for up to $1 million to support strategic initiatives in response to the economic conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the GO Virginia Board approved flexible policy changes to accelerate the deployment of funding.
Applications are accepted through the nine GO Virginia Regional Councils.
“The negative impacts to our economy will be felt for some time, so we must be strategic with how we spend state dollars,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “We have an opportunity to build on the great partnerships and hard work that the GO Virginia regions have developed to create strategies that address Virginia’s economic recovery. The range of economic development opportunities that will result from the projects funded by the Economic Resilience and Recovery program will have an important impact on the commonwealth.”
In addition to the Northern Virginia Back to Work program, three other projects have been administratively approved through the new Economic Resilience and Recovery Program, totaling $341,800. They include:
GO Virginia Region 2 and the Office of the Vice President for Health Sciences and Technology at Virginia Tech will receive $100,000 for Rapid High-Throughput COVID-19 Testing project. The project will deliver timely COVID-19 test results to the New River Valley and Roanoke health districts with a projected 1,000 test samples analyzed per day. The project will also provide specialized on-the-job training to medical lab specialists and medical lab technician students hired to scale-up lab operations.
GO Virginia Region 2 and the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council will receive $97,200 to offer virtual education, mentoring, and business assistance programming to companies throughout the region. The Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council is partnering with the cities of Roanoke and Salem, the counties of Botetourt, Montgomery, and Roanoke, and the Roanoke Economic Development Authority to build off their existing business accelerator program and deliver enhanced services and programming that is responsive to the COVID-19 pandemic.
GO Virginia Region 3 will receive $75,000 for a critical drone test delivery project to assess the efficacy and safety of increased last-mile delivery of COVID-19 medical supplies, tests, and equipment by commercial drones. The Virginia Growth Alliance is working with Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology and commercial drone company, DroneUp, to complete the testing at St. Paul’s College in Lawrenceville.
“Now more than ever, we need to think creatively about how to utilize GO Virginia resources to address the economic challenges we face today and in the near future,” said Chair of the GO Virginia Board Tom Farrell. “The GO Virginia regions have demonstrated hard work over the last year with the myriad of projects, and now given the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing innovation and ingenuity with a robust project pipeline that will deliver impact and address their regional economies’ recovery. We look forward to realizing the success of these projects and seeing economies bounce back and deliver new opportunities for individuals across the commonwealth.”
Since GO Virginia’s inception in 2017, it has funded 90 projects and awarded approximately $30 million to support regional economic development efforts.