Free WiFi Hotspots Available

With the help of local officials, schools, and libraries across Virginia, the Commonwealth Connect team and Virginia Tech have developed an interactive map of free, publicly available WiFi hotspots that Virginians can access from a vehicle.

FY21 Virginia Telecommunication Initiative

The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) has announced its plan to award $19 million through their Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI) in Fiscal Year 2021. VATI provides last-mile broadband services to unserved areas across the Commonwealth. DHCD is accepting public comments for the Draft FY2021 VATI Program Guidelines and Criteria through May 18, 2020. Written comments can be submitted to

A How-to-Apply webinar with important eligibility information and criteria will be hosted on June 9, 2020. Application are due August 17, 2020.

Grant Resource Guide

For over 50 years, the CSPDC has been providing planning services and technical assistance to its member jurisdictions. One of many resources provided by the CSPDC is the Grant Resource Guide that contains regularly updated information on many of the grants available in our region. The Grant Resource Guide lists state and federal grant sources and links to grant agency websites. These grant resources are categorized by funding and project types, including opportunities related to COVID-19.

Elkton Sidewalk Project

The CSPDC partnered with the Town of Elkton and VDOT to develop a town-wide Pedestrian Masterplan to prioritize the Town’s investments in pedestrian infrastructure. The CSPDC helped evaluate the condition of the Town’s existing pedestrian network, and developed an evaluation criteria to prioritize each of the 20 potential sidewalk projects that the Town can include in its comprehensive plan, future capital improvement plans, and as a baseline for future grant funding applications.

The study will be complete in June 2020 and is the result of the CSPDC’s Rural Work Program, which conducts one study every fiscal year on a transportation-related issue for our rural partners. Please contact the CSPDC if your locality is interested in conducting a study in Fiscal Year 2021.

Homebuyers Program is Open for Applicants

The HOME Down Payment Assistance Program in the Central Shenandoah Valley region received annual funding to assist approximately eight first-time, low-to-moderate income homebuyers in 2020.

HOME is a flexible gap financing program that provides eligible homebuyers with down-payment and/or closing cost assistance in the form of a forgivable loan. Funds are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Created to help eligible homebuyers obtain decent, safe, and affordable housing in 1999, this program has helped approximately 250 people in our region grow their personal wealth and equity through homeownership.

HOME funds are made available by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development and administered by the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission (CSPDC). Call the CSPDC or visit their website to learn more about eligibility requirements and how to apply.


Hurricane Preparedness Week: May 2-9

In preparation for Hurricane Season starting June 1 and running through November 30, the National Weather Service hosts the annual Hurricane Preparedness Week – an awareness and preparedness outreach campaign.

In the Central Shenandoah Region, many of the most devastating floods have come from tropical hurricane systems. To help stay prepared: determine your risk, develop an evacuation plan, assemble disaster supplies, get a property insurance check-up, strengthen your home, help your neighbor get prepared, and complete a written plan. It only takes one storm to change your life and your community.

GO Virginia Scale-up the Valley Project Approved

On April 17, the State GO Virginia Board approved funding for the Scale-up the Valley program coordinated by the Shenandoah Valley Partnership (SVP). The project will utilize the expertise and resources of the National Center for Economic Gardening (National Center) to provide region-wide business support services to traded-sector companies. SVP will match the GO Virginia grant on a per-company enrollment basis and will have 50% of the contract cost reimbursed by the company’s respective locality. Approximately 20 companies (10 each year) are expected to be served by the National Center over two years, beginning in May, 2020.

GO Virginia supports programs to create more high-paying jobs through incentivized collaboration between business, education, and government to diversify and strengthen the economy in every region of the Commonwealth. The program is administered through the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. The CSPDC is one of the support organizations for GO Virginia Region 8.

SMART SCALE Pre-applications Submitted

Every two years, applicants in our region submit applications in SMART SCALE, which funds up to 100% of a transportation project’s cost through a competitive scoring process. CSPDC partnered with multiple local governments to submit a record 17 SMART SCALE pre-applications on April 17, 2020. The CSPDC, SAWMPO, and BRITE Transit each submitted four pre-applications. HRMPO submitted five. VDOT and DRPT will review the pre-applications in April and May. During June and July, CSPDC and local staff will develop full applications for the projects green-lighted to proceed from the pre-application phase.

Final applications submitted in August will be reviewed by VDOT and DRPT staff in late 2020, with project awards announced in early 2021.

May is Bike Month

May is National Bike Month – an annual celebration to increase awareness and participation in bicycling, and showcase its many health and environmental benefits. The most popular day of Bike Month, Bike to Work Day, has been rescheduled to September 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Bike the Valley and RideShare programs, administered by the CSPDC, have created a digital social media campaign to bring public awareness to bicycling in our region. The campaign will be featured throughout the month in addition to important public safety reminders associated with cycling and outdoor activities.

BARC Increases Internet Access in Rockbridge County

BARC Connects has opened up wireless hotspots at four different Rockbridge County Public School parking lots: Mountain View Elementary, Fairfield Elementary, Natural Bridge Elementary, and Rockbridge County High School. BARC’s intent is to offer Internet access at convenient points across the county. Students and parents can practice social distancing by accessing the Internet in the safety of their own vehicle in the parking lot of any of these schools.