New CSPDC Finance Director Hired  

Lee Bell has been hired as CSPDC’s new Finance Director and started work in October. Lee is a native of St. Simons Island, Georgia. Most recently Lee worked as a financial consultant at Ryzing Technologies in Staunton. Before that he was with several investment firms in Nashville including Ironside Investments which he founded. Lee earned a BA degree from Furman University and an MBA from Vanderbilt University. Lee and his wife Anne and their two sons, Gus and Gray, live in Staunton.

Project Impact Calendars Available

The 2020 Shenandoah Valley Project Impact Preparedness Calendar will be available for pick-up in December at local government buildings and libraries across the region. This year, the calendar celebrates the 20th year of Shenandoah Valley Project Impact which began in 2000. The publication contains preparedness tips and mitigation strategies for dealing with severe weather, emergencies and disasters as well as historic photographs and fun holidays for each day of the year. Contact the CSPDC to obtain your copy.

Farmers Market Conference Held 

The Virginia Farmers Market Association hosted their 7th annual Farmers Market Conference in Staunton at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel on November 13-15. This three-day event featured workshops, presentations, and social networking events including tours of Fields of Gold member farms – Project GrowsOverlook Farm and Bluestone Winery. This year’s theme focused on agritourism, a popular path for connecting customers to farmers and farmers markets. CSPDC Agritourism Coordinator, Rachel Salatin, presented on the Fields of Gold Farm Trail and participated as a vendor. In attendance were over 150 market managers, vendors, farmers, and agricultural leaders.

GO Virginia’s RAAMP Project Completed 

Byers Technical Institute (BTI), a technical training center in Rockbridge County, partnered with the City of Buena Vista and the Rockbridge County Economic Development Authority to address the high demand for skilled welders throughout the Shenandoah Valley. In 2018, the Rockbridge Area Advanced Manufacturing Program (RAAMP) was awarded $100,000 in GO Virginia funds that were matched by the two localities and BTI with an additional $100,000. Funds were used to support instructors, purchase equipment and machinery, and modify and upgrade the building to expand BTI’s ability to enroll and train welders. As of September, 34 students have completed BTI’s welding program and are now employed by 13 different companies with an average annual starting salary at $46,179. BTI has had 100% job placement of their students. All grant activities are completed, but BTI will continue to track and report on jobs and salaries that result from this investment. Over the next 5-years this program is expected to graduate 72 welders.
The next project application deadline for GO Virginia Region 8 is December 13, 2019. Proposals submitted by this deadline will be presented to the Region 8 Council in January 2020. The CSPDC serves as a support organization for the GO Virginia Region 8 Council and provides grant administration for GO Virginia projects funded within the CSPDC.

Census Complete Count Committee Forms

The 2020 Census is right around the corner and local governments and communities across the U.S. are working to educate their citizens about the importance of completing the Census by forming Complete Count Committees (CCCs). CCCs are comprised of government and community leaders from education, business, healthcare, faith-based groups and other community organizations. The CSPDC is currently working with Staunton, Waynesboro and Augusta County to form the SAW CCC that will collaboratively use existing resources to teach citizens how to take the Census and why an accurate count helps to secure financial resources to provide essential services and crucial programs within the region.
A workshop to train organizations on how to “help folks take the Census,” will be held on December 4th at the BRITE Transit facility in Fishersville. For more information and to sign up for the training, contact Rebecca Joyce at the CSPDC.