Building a sustainable economy in rural Virginia

GO Virginia Region 3 Council members recently spoke to 60 Lead Virginia participants on strategies for economic success at The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville. GO Virginia Region 3 Chair Charley Majors gave a bird’s eye view of GO Virginia, the Region 3 Council and the region’s innovation strategies.

Council member James McClain, co-chair of the Innovation committee, noted that “Innovation is energizing. It creates the opportunities necessary for businesses to thrive. A challenge is that innovation itself can be a challenge to sustain over time.”

McClain’s remarks were followed by a panel called “Shaping the Way Forward Via Technology, Talent and Agriculture”. Region 3 Council Member Tim Clark shared information on the current state of agriculture in Southern Virginia and how strategic partnerships are magnifying individual efforts.

He was joined by Dr. Julie Brown of the GOTEC program, the recipient of the largest GO Virginia investment to date from the GO Virginia Competitive Funding pool that provided funding of up to $4.9 million. Jeremy Satterfield, of Microsoft and SOVA Innovation Hub (another Region 3 project), added technology expertise to the conversation. GO Virginia Region 3 Program Manager and 2009 Lead Virginia Program Graduate Liz Povar moderated the afternoon’s discussion.

Region 3 is overcoming the innovation challenge by supporting initiatives like the SOVA Innovation Hub, a venture spearheaded by Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities (MBC) Corporation in partnership with Microsoft Corp. The hub will be located in South Boston and will increase access to technology while encouraging collaboration and economic opportunities.

Another way Region 3 is combating the forces of economic stagnation is by crowdsourcing. In April the Regional Council announced a request for letters of interest from organizations in the Region 3 footprint open to creating a “regional entrepreneurial investment strategy.” The Council hopes to choose a lead for this project in the next few months.