RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Governor Ralph Northam announced Wednesday two allocations of Growth and Opportunity for Virginia (GO Virginia) grants to help with workforce expansion programs and projects that stimulate economic growth.
The two grants total more than $6 million, with $4.7 million to Tidewater cities and counties. The funding supports 11 projects throughout the Commonwealth, two statewide projects and six regional projects.
“These projects leverage the assets of each region and forge innovative partnerships that will help tackle some of our most pressing challenges,” Northam said.
“GO Virginia is providing exactly the kind of investment we need to move our economy forward, drive private-sector growth, and continue our progress toward an equitable and sustainable recovery in the months ahead.”
The first allocation is designed to support statewide and regional projects that grow Virginia’s business-ready sites portfolio, provide support to expand talent pipelines in key industries, and help startups in coastal resiliency and life sciences.
Of that allocation, one of the statewide awards includes $1,599,653 to Virginia Bio Connect in multiple regions throughout the state, including Virginia Beach from region 5.
Virginia Bio Connect aims to create jobs in the bioscience industry by forming four new “BioHubs” to serve existing and emerging life science companies.
Another statewide grant includes $2,937,163 towards launching the Coastal Resilience and Adaptation Economy initiative in counties of Accomack and Northampton, the cities of Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach, and the town of Chincoteague.
Included in that award are also the counties of Essex, Gloucester, King and Queen, King William, Mathews, and Middlesex and the towns of Tappahannock, Urbanna, and West Point.
The initiative will help establish a long-term, high-paying industry cluster by supporting “business plan competitions and accelerator services.”
The initiative will form a network allowing for collaboration and engagement with the larger business community regarding sea level rise and build capacity for the adoption of resilient practices.
Local regional grants include $73,000 to the Robotics Innovation Hub which covers the cities of Hampton, Newport News, and Norfolk.
The Hampton Roads Alliance will conduct various analyses to identify best practices to increase and improve interconnected technology innovation focusing on key Hampton Roads industries such as manufacturing, digital shipbuilding and repair, distribution and logistics, water technologies, modeling, and simulation.
Another area that received a regional award that includes Hampton Roads is the RVA-757 Connects I-64 Corridor Talent Pipeline: Today and Tomorrow Initiative with $90,000 allotted. The region includes counties of Isle of Wight, James City, and York and the cities of Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Williamsburg.
RVA-757 Connects will help create jobs for the Hampton Roads and Richmond regional talent pool, again, focusing on priority industries.
“The GO Virginia regional councils are demonstrating that we can approach our economic recovery strategically even amid this incredibly challenging year,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “These awarded projects will help address the wide-ranging impacts of the pandemic while supporting job creation and new investment in high-growth sectors.”
The second allocation was created at the start of the pandemic and is set for the Economic Resilience and Recovery Program. The GO Virginia Board designed the program to help quickly deploy resources to help communities struggling from the economic impacts of the pandemic.
In the second allotment, locally, $100,000 will go toward the Virginia Virtual Maritime Trades Training program which includes the cities of Hampton, Newport News, and Norfolk.
The project seeks to address the high demand for training in shipbuilding and ship repair by investing in virtual training at Tidewater Community College, Thomas Nelson Community College, Paul D. Camp Community College, and the Apprentice School.
The virtual training includes simulators that will place students in realistic job settings to work scenarios but from a safe environment without the risk of injury, damage to equipment, loss of materials, or exposure to COVID-19.
“GO Virginia has succeeded in creating a framework for strategic thinking in at the regional level,” said GO Virginia Board Vice-Chair Nancy Howell Agee. “The mission of the program is perhaps even more relevant today than it was when we announced our first grant. Growing and diversifying regional economies while creating high-quality jobs for Virginians is a goal we share with our partners across the Commonwealth.”