GO Virginia Region 3 has awarded a $65,000 grant to the Commonwealth Regional Council (CRC), a planning agency that assists local governments. CRC will use the grant to create a business plan and strategy for a regional economic development organization (REDO) that will coordinate economic development on behalf of the counties of Amelia, Buckingham, Charlotte, Lunenburg and Prince Edward, Virginia.
Alongside strategic partner Longwood University, the CRC will work to design a REDO that can serve as an active partner for GOVA Region 3 in building and strengthening the region’s capacity to attract and support new business opportunities.
“Developing a REDO business plan is a critical first step to propel economic development in Region 3,” said GOVA Region 3 Council Chair Tim Clark. “By partnering with Longwood University, the CRC will work to create an effective and financially sustainable business plan with clear goals for the future of Region 3.”
Virginia is home to 17 REDOs, which serve as vital contacts for state-level business prospects and leads, supporting Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) processes, including initial contacts, marketing and outreach, site planning and business development. Previously, some CRC localities were members of Virginia’s Growth Alliance, but currently only Charlotte and Lunenburg counties are REDO members. The CRC plans to build a new REDO to serve its entire regional geographic footprint.
“Localities that are not members of a recognized REDO miss out on some opportunities offered by VEDP that are only directed to localities that are in a recognized REDO,” said CRC Executive Director Melody Foster. “The CRC was happy to help facilitate this movement going forward and will be working with the seven counties, Longwood University and GO Virginia Region 3 to create a useful plan for the region.”
In addition to the grant funding, which was approved unanimously by the GOVA Region 3 Council, the CRC received matching funds from Longwood University and the seven local counties it serves. Along with a CRC cash match and in-kind matches from the Advisory Committee and Foster, the combined project budget to design the business plan is $109,500. The plan will include recommendations on the current and desired states of the region’s economy; a work program; business attraction, retention and expansion; small business formation and support; site development; technical support; governance structure; and budget and financial sustainability. All work is expected to be completed approximately one year from the award date.
The creation of a REDO reinforces the CRC’s mission to “promote a powerful, connected, and resilient Heartland economy by working with localities to improve quality of life, leverage education, and strengthen infrastructure.” As an “arm” of its member jurisdictions, the CRC offers a range of services to members, including program implementation, planning, mapping and grant application assistance.