news go virginia region 8 ignites economic growth in shenandoah valley
Virginia

GO Virginia Region 8 ignites economic growth in Shenandoah Valley

GO VirginiaA state organization looking to increase the region’s economic competitiveness will launch two new initiatives this month.

The GO Virginia Region 8 Council will focus on the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport Commission Aviation Technology Park and NextGen Nurses.

“As we embark on new ventures in 2023, we are focusing heavily on site development and the talent pipeline,” said Region 8 Council Chair Chris Kyle. “Initiatives such as the SHD Aviation Technology Park project and the NextGen Nurses project launch in January. These undertakings will further bolster economic stability and opportunity in the Shenandoah Valley.”

SHD Aviation Technology Park project

The SHD Aviation Technology Park project will upgrade the technology park from a Virginia Economic Development Partnership Tier 2 site to a Tier 4 site, approaching the “shovel-ready” Tier 5 status.

The project includes utility upgrades and relocation of water and sewer systems to enable future site development related to aviation.

Leaders expect the project to generate more than $3.6 million in state revenue and approximately 260 jobs.

NextGen Nurses project

Meanwhile, in the talent development sector, the NextGen Nurses project will address workforce shortages worsened by the coronavirus pandemic.

By designing teacher training modules, increasing clinical training opportunities and maximizing simulation lab capacity, the undertaking will create a sustainable talent pool of nursing trainers – and therefore nursing students – in the Valley.

2022 accomplishments

The state-led organization hired Executive Director Deborah K. Flippo in September. Flippo has spent more than 30 years in business development and marketing and her economic development experience includes nearly two decades at the Richmond-based Draper Aden Associates engineering firm.

“Region 8 supports movers, makers and groundbreakers,” Flippo said. “A number of successful projects from prior years closed out in 2022, and we continue to build collaboration, spur private sector growth and engage the state government as a strategic partner.”

One of the successes of this past year has been finalizing and closing out the Blue Ridge Community College Cyber Security Workforce Training Program. Led by a group of municipal, educational, nonprofit and for-profit organizations, the initiative offered hands-on workforce development cyber security training and steered industry jobs to Harrisonburg, engaging 141 companies. The program placed 51 students in the workforce with starting salaries of $51,000 per year, increasing to $65,000 after year two. Certified as a registered apprenticeship program, the initiative received Virginia FastForward funding.

Region 8 successfully closed out two other talent development projects in 2022: the Rockbridge Area Advanced Manufacturing Program and the Shenandoah Valley Talent Solutions Strategy Program.

GO Virginia Region 8 Council includes the cities of Buena Vista, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Staunton, Waynesboro and Winchester; and the counties of Augusta, Bath, Clarke, Frederick, Highland, Page, Rockbridge, Rockingham, Shenandoah and Warren.

Since its inception, the council has awarded a total of more than $5.5 million to 19 projects designed to promote opportunity in the Shenandoah Valley.

All projects were funded in part by GO Virginia, a state-funded initiative administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development that strengthens and diversifies Virginia’s economy and fosters the creation of higher wage jobs in strategic industries.

For more information, please visit govirginiaregion8.org

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.