The GO Virginia Region 8 Council is pleased to announce that it is accepting proposals for projects to be funded through the State’s GO Virginia initiative.

Region 8 is home to two planning district organizations, the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission (CSPDC) and the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission (NSVRC). The Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission includes the counties of Augusta, Bath, Highland, Rockbridge, and Rockingham, and the cities of Buena Vista, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Staunton, and Waynesboro.  The  Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission includes the counties of Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah, Warren, and the City of Winchester.

The Region 8 Council has approximately $928,000 in GO Virginia funds to award to projects in the region.  In addition, approximately $11.3 million in competitive statewide GO Virginia funds is available for projects.

Successful projects will address one or more of the region’s five targeted industry sectors:

  •   Financial and Business Services
  •   Health Care
  •   Information Technology/Communications
  •   Light Manufacturing
  •   Transportation and Logistics

Projects funded will address one or more of the region’s framework initiatives developed around the following broad areas:

  •   Recruit and/or retain the talent needed in the region
  •   Grow existing businesses, develop existing clusters, and scale-up small and mid-size companies
  •   Establish start-ups from commercializing university-based research and supporting entrepreneurs
  •   Support potential joint economic development activities such as site development and training initiatives

Projects supported by GO Virginia funding must:

  •   Involve private sector employment that pays an annual wage greater than $41,000,
  •   Include the collaboration of two or more localities,
  •   Commit non-state sources of matching funds (50/50), and
  •   Generate new spending to the Shenandoah Valley (not just recirculating local spending)

To submit a proposal:

For a project to be considered by the Region 8 Council, complete this pre-application.  For a proposal to be included in the first round of review, the pre-application must be submitted to the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission at bonnie@cspdc.org no later than Friday, October 13, 2017.

For further information about GO Virginia Region 8’s project priorities, please refer to the Region 8 Economic Growth and Diversification Plan with appendices that is available on the Shenandoah Valley Partnership’s website.  Additional information about GO Virginia also is available on the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development’s (DHCD) website.

Project Impact Children’s Publication Makes Its Way to Hurricane Victims

A Shenandoah Valley Project Impact publication created to help children understand disaster preparedness and navigate the stress of severe weather has been reformatted into a mini-guide that will soon be in the hands of children impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Thanks to a collaboration of several organizations and volunteers, 25,000 copies of “Too Much Weather” Kids Disaster Activity Guide will be shipped to hurricane-affected areas this month. The eight-page book is designed to be completed with a parent, teacher, or adult helper, and contains activities to assist children in dealing with the trauma they have experienced.

“Too Much Weather” was originally published after Hurricane Katrina through grant funding received by Shenandoah Valley Project Impact (SVPI), which is a program of the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission. James Madison University professor Dr. Anne Stewart worked with SVPI to create the materials that were included in the original guide, which also has information for kids about preparing for disasters, and what to do during severe weather.

The idea for creating a “mini-guide” edition sprung up when several people familiar with the guide decided it was critical to get it in the hands of the most recent young hurricane victims. Several organizations teamed up to quickly make it happen. Graphic design and formatting to make the guide accessible for the visually impaired were donated by Wightman and Associates, a training development firm in Florida.  Dr. Alessandra Jerolleman, a Community Resilience and Hazard Mitigation expert from New Orleans contributed the Spanish translation, and Kathryn Lebby and the Association of Play Therapy Foundation donated the printing of 20,000 English and 5,000 Spanish copies.

Word has quickly spread about the availability of the guide, and SVPI is starting to receive requests for copies from groups like the Virgin Islands Children’s Museum, located in St. Thomas. The museum is working with volunteers stateside to create 500 – 600 “trauma bags” that will be shipped by private plane to the children in the Virgin Islands. The group is also asking for donations of the following items to be included in the bags:

  • Notebooks/journals
  • Crayons, pens, pencils
  • Flashlights
  • Stress balls
  • Bubbles
  • Playdoh or silly putty
  • Power bars/snack bars

SVPI and Community Emergency Response Team members will be collecting the above items for shipment to the staging area along with copies of “Too Much Weather.”  Community members interested in donating can drop items at the CSPDC offices at 112 MacTanly Place in Staunton from 8:30am – 5:30pm on September 14 and 15, from 10:00am – 1pm on Saturday, September 16, and 8:30am – 5pm on September 18.

For more information about “Too Much Weather” Kids Disaster Activity Guide, contact Rebecca Joyce, (540) 885-5174, rebecca@cspdc.org.


Fields of Gold Video Debuts

The Fields of Gold Agritourism program recently completed a promotional video for the Fields of Gold Farm Trail. Produced by Appeal Productions and featuring many Fields of Gold Farm Trail members, the video shows the Constable family enjoying a fun-filled day on the Farm Trail. The video will be used to showcase the many ways visitors can enjoy  farm adventures in the Shenandoah Valley, especially by using the convenient web and mobile-ready tools for planning and navigating the Farm Trail.

 A second video is in production and will feature more Farm Trail members and provide a range of historical facts about farming in the Shenandoah Valley.

Fields of Gold Hires New Agritourism Coordinator

Meet Spencer Eavers, our new Agritourism Coordinator for the Fields of Gold program. She grew up in the Valley and is excited for the opportunity to support the growth of the region’s agritourism businesses. She currently resides in Staunton with her husband and three young children, who all enjoy experiencing new adventures and regularly take advantage of the Fields of Gold Farm Trail’s great destinations, from the local farmers’ market, to the many family-friendly events.
Spencer has a background in marketing and event and program coordination, with a passion for local, sustainable, community development.  She looks forward to serving our members and helping them realize their aspirations.  Contact her at spencer@cspdc.org or 540-885-5174.
View the latest opportunities for agritourism businesses in the Fall 2017 Fence Talk.

GO Virginia Region 8 Completes Growth and Diversification Plan

A regional Economic Growth and Diversification Plan prepared by the GO Virginia Region 8 Council has received final approval from the GO Virginia State Board. The Region 8 Council’s plan identifies five target industry sectors in the Shenandoah Valley where job growth is anticipated in the next five years. These jobs are expected to have an average wage of $41,000 or higher. The target industries include financial and business services, healthcare, light manufacturing, information technology/communications, and transportation and logistics.

The Region 8 Economic Growth and Diversification Plan identifies economic opportunities, needs, and challenges, establishes priorities, and outlines support necessary for multi-locality collaborative projects to potentially be funded under GO Virginia. The plan also recommends strategies for addressing workforce recruitment and training in target industry sectors. In addition to defining the five anticipated growth industries, Region 8 Council’s plan also includes a set of broadly-defined framework initiatives intended to recruit/retain necessary talent, grow existing businesses, establish start-ups, and support joint economic development activities such as site development and workforce training.

George Pace, Chair of the Go Virginia Region 8 Council, said: “The Plan we have developed will provide the framework for prioritizing projects for GO Virginia funding. Our goal is to create more job opportunities that pay over $41,000 through incentivized collaboration between public and private organizations throughout Region 8.”

GO Virginia Region 8 covers a large area from Winchester to Lexington, and includes ten counties and six cities in the Shenandoah Valley, with a combined population of 525,000. The 28-member council that oversees the GO Virginia program is made up of representatives from small and large business, higher and k-12 education, elected officials, and economic and workforce development organizations.
Approximately $1M in implementation funding will be made available to the region for projects that align with the approved Region 8 Council’s Economic Growth and Diversification Plan. Projects must be collaborative, involving two or more localities and private sector partners, and be focused on growing and diversifying the region’s economy to complement existing industry clusters as outlined in the Council’s plan.

For more information on GO Virginia, visit online at Shenandoah Valley Partnership or Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.

About GO Virginia: The Virginia Initiative for Growth and Opportunity (GO Virginia) is a voluntary, business-led, bipartisan initiative that was formed to foster private-sector growth and diversification across nine economic development regions in the Commonwealth of Virginia. State financial incentives designated for regional projects that encourage collaboration between private sector companies, workforce, education, and government are administered by the Virginia Growth and Opportunity Board.

2017 Try Transit Week Set for September 18-22

Try Transit Week, an educational event designed to encourage Virginians to reduce their use of single-occupancy vehicles and try a form of public transportation, will be celebrated in Staunton, Augusta County, and Waynesboro with a Free Ride Day on all BRITE Bus Transit routes on Wednesday, September 20, 2017. Riders can catch any of the following BRITE Bus routes free of charge that day.

East & West 250 Connector – connects to the Staunton trolleys, the Waynesboro Circulator, the Stuarts Draft Link and the Blue Ridge Community College Shuttle, and provides service between the cities of Staunton and Waynesboro in the Rt. 250 corridor, with stops including Augusta Health and the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center Campus.

Stuarts Draft Link – provides service within Stuarts Draft, and connections with Fishersville and Waynesboro. Stops include apartment complexes, Augusta Health facilities, and employment centers.

Blue Ridge Community College Shuttle – the Blue Ridge Community College (BRCC) Shuttle offers two routes. The BRCC South Shuttle provides service between Staunton and the BRCC Campus in Weyers Cave. A BRCC North Shuttle provides service from the campus to Harrisonburg through Bridgewater, Dayton and Mt. Crawford.

Waynesboro Circulator – travels within the city limits of Waynesboro, providing connections to employment centers, retail, and medical facilities.

Staunton North & West Loops and Downtown Trolley – The Downtown Trolley serves historic downtown Staunton destinations; the North and West Loops serve outlying neighborhoods and medical and retail destinations; the Saturday Night Trolley operates Saturday evenings providing connections to retail and entertainment destinations.

On-Demand and Deviated Fixed Routes are also included in the free ride day.

Try Transit Week was created by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) and transit operators across the Commonwealth to spread the word about public transportation accessibility and its numerous benefits. Public transportation riders not only save time and money, but they can multi-task and arrive at their destination stress- and hassle-free.

As part of Try Transit Week, DRPT sponsors a Try Transit Week pledge giveaway. Participants who pledge to try transit are automatically entered for a chance to win a year of free transit service from a participating Virginia transit operator, as well as a pair of round-trip tickets aboard Amtrak’s Northeast Regional train. Pledges will be accepted through September 22, 2017. Rules at www.trytransit.org.

For more information about the Try Transit Week promotion, contact Nancy Gourley, nancy@cspdc.org (540) 885-5174.