McAuliffe announces $196,000 in funding for rural projects at Virginia Rural Center conference
Against the backdrop of Carter’s Creek at The Tides Inn, Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced $196,000 in funding for projects in rural communities at the Governor’s Summit on Rural Prosperity that aims to connect rural Virginia to the global economy.
Touting his success in job creation and economic development in Virginia, Gov. McAuliffe took the opportunity to announce the Building Collaborative Communities (BCC) awards as the keynote speaker of the summit.
“We’re hitting the cover off the ball in economic development,” Gov. McAuliffe said.
The summit is presented by the Virginia Rural Center and is the signature annual conference that brings together the Commonwealth’s administration, elected officials, community leaders, educators, businesses and more to discuss the challenges in and solutions for growing rural Virginia’s economy.
McAuliffe said he’s pushing to bring broadband to rural areas, a key to his job creation agenda. He said the commonwealth has to make sure the prosperity of 21,500 jobs created in Virginia in the past two months — and 166,500 in his tenure — reaches rural areas.
“We’ve got to open up all of our communities to make sure we have broadband,” he said.
It’s also important to talk transportation in rural Virginia, said Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore.
“Transportation largely gets talked about in urban settings,” Secretary Haymore said. “We hear a lot about Northern Virginia, we hear a lot about I-95, I-66, I-64 between Richmond and Virginia Beach. But transportation issues, moving product and moving people, in rural Virginia exists, too.”
Regarding the $196,000 in BCC funding, Gov. McAuliffe said Virginia is “open, willing and able to do business with anyone who wants to do business in Virginia.”
The BCC program promotes regional economic collaboration in economically-distressed areas to stimulate job creation, economic development and provide a significant return on state investment.
The awards included:
—$78,000 to the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission for economic development and resource organization. The Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission encompasses the counties of Essex, Gloucester, King and Queen, King William, Mathews and Middlesex and the towns of Tappahannock and West Point;
—$70,000 to the Advancement Foundation for a regional small business collaborative. The Advancement Foundation includes the counties of Botetourt and Roanoke and the towns of Buchanan, Fincastle, Troutville and Vinton;
—$48,000 to the Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission for entrepreneurial and workforce development planning. The Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission includes the counties of Accomack and Northampton and the towns of Accomac, Belle, Haven, Bloxom, Cape Charles, Cheriton, Chincoteague, Eastville, Exmore, Hallwood, Keller, Melfa, Nassawadox, Onancock, Only, Painter, Parsley, Saxis, Tangier and Wachapreague.
In comments after his keynote address, Gov. McAuliffe spoke of the 37,000 tech jobs that are open in Virginia, including 17,000 cyber jobs. He said workers do not need a four-year degree for many of those jobs, and he is working with community colleges around the state, including in rural areas, to establish programs to train workers for these jobs.
“I can move you tomorrow into that job,” he said.
There may be challenges in rural Virginia, but, as Secretary Haymore said, there are “a lot of solutions out there. The General Assembly has appropriated new monies. There is a lot of brainpower, manpower engaged on this. We are going to be flattening out some of those challenges and taking advantage of the opportunities. We are going to be tackling them and going to try and make a difference.”
The Governor’s Summit on Rural Prosperity continues Tuesday with panels on entrepreneurship in rural Virginia, cybersecurity as a growth industry for all of Virginia and competing with the global economy for workforce.