By James K. Spore, Special to Inside Business
In May 2018, Inside Business invited Reinvent Hampton Roads to write a feature about who we are, what we do and our relationship to the innovative statewide program called GO Virginia.
Since that first article, Inside Business has published a column each month describing one of the many regional initiatives undertaken by Reinvent Hampton Roads, the GO Virginia Region 5 Regional Council, and our many collaborating partners. We thank the team at Inside Business for giving us this opportunity to inform you of what is being done to improve our region’s economic performance through increased collaboration.
This month’s feature will focus on how the GO Virginia program is impacting our region.
GO Virginia is a bipartisan, business-led economic development initiative that is changing the way Virginia’s diverse regions collaborate on economic and workforce development activities. It provides capacity building, per capita, and competitive funding resources that support programs designed to create more high-paying jobs through incentivized collaboration between business, education, and government.
The program only considers funding for projects that involve at least two collaborating communities that have also secured funds to match the state GO Virginia grant. The goal is to diversify and strengthen the economy in every region of the commonwealth.
Under the program, each region has a guiding regional council. The Region 5 Regional Council is comprised of 28 business, academic and government leaders representing all parts of the region. The geographic footprint of Region 5 includes the counties of Accomack, Isle of Wight, James City, Northampton, Southampton and York; and the cities of Chesapeake, Franklin, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach and Williamsburg.
Upon forming in 2017, one of the first tasks of the Region 5 council was to engage Old Dominion University to conduct an economic analysis of the region, with emphasis on specific industry clusters and their growth potential.
The resulting economic growth and diversification plan identified opportunities for near-term growth, particularly in high-wage industries, and provided direction regarding how to best apply the incentive funding offered through the GO Virginia program. The council developed a process calling for the submission and review of collaborative grant proposals that met the GO Virginia guidelines.
Members of the regional council have been and continue to be actively involved in building awareness of the program, making connections and building partnerships. These partnerships have extended into other regions of the state and are expected to yield projects that will qualify for a larger pool of competitive grant funds in the near future.
Region 5 had two projects approved by the state GO Virginia board in December 2017 – the Virginia Digital Shipbuilding Workforce Program and the Hampton Roads Cyber Co-Lab (rebranded Virginia Cyber Alliance). These two projects were approved for a second round of funding by the state board in December 2018.
In February of 2018, the Hampton Roads Unmanned Systems Facility on the Peninsula and the 757 SEED fund were awarded grants by the GO Virginia Board and just last month three additional grants were awarded to support 757 Angels Inc., the Hampton Roads Coalition for Talent Pipeline Development and the Accomack-Northampton Sewer and Sites Study on the Eastern Shore.
In order to receive funds from GO Virginia, progress on all projects must be monitored by the regional council for milestone achievement. To date, all grant recipients have exceeded or satisfactorily met the required quarterly progress reviews. Several of these projects have been highlighted in our Inside Business columns over the past year and more will be shared as the progress continues.
What level of financial investment has been made in these programs? GO Virginia grant funds allocated to Region 5 projects to date total $3,275,211. Coupled with the additional leverage of nonstate funding sources of $7,592,200 for these projects brings the total investment to $10,867,411.
One of the most significant and impactful outcomes for Region 5 is that the GO Virginia program has dramatically changed the landscape for collaboration between our communities, and not just for GO Virginia-fundable projects. We have seen more organizations, localities and businesses working better together as they see how collective impact can yield positive results.
Want to learn more? Check out: ReinventHR.org.
James K. Spore is president and CEO of Reinvent Hampton Roads. Reach him at email@example.com.
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