Dixon Whitworth Retires from CTB

The Harrisonburg-Rockingham Metropolitan Planning Organization (HRMPO) and the Staunton Augusta Waynesboro Metropolitan Planning Organization (SAWMPO) wishes to express their sincere appreciation for Mr. F. Dixon Whitworth, Jr., for steadfast leadership and dedicated services to the MPOs, and to the people of the region, shown during his term on the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB). Mr. Whitworth, a Shenandoah Valley native, was elected as the CTB’s Vice Chairman last year, having been on the Board since 2012, serving as its Staunton District representative.

VAPDC Summer Series

The statewide Planning District Commission organization (VAPDC) offered an online Summer Series on four Thursdays in July in place of the canceled two-day summer conference. Topics included “The Other Side of COVID-19,” “Travel, Tourism and Leisure,” and “Transportation and Mobility Reimagined.” The last of the series, “Virginia’s PDC’s Regional Responses and Resources,” is scheduled for Thursday, July 30. Registration is required to participate.

Ann Cundy Elected Chair of VAMPO

The Virginia Association of MPOs (VAMPO) elected Ann Cundy, CSPDC Director of Transportation, as its new Chair on June 23, 2020. The General Assembly established VAMPO in 2009 to provide education, information, and opportunities for cooperation among Virginia’s Metropolitan Planning Organizations, and among state, federal and community officials. Ms. Cundy will serve as Chair for two years.

Unemployment Rates for the Region

At the start of 2020, the CSPDC’s unemployment rate was below 3%.  Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic began to impact industries and their workforce in March and by April, CSPDC localities experienced sharp unemployment increases. At 20.8%, Bath County had the highest April unemployment rate in Virginia.  As all CSPDC localities showed an increase from March to April, they also reported a decrease in their unemployment rate from April to May.  The CSPDC’s unemployment rate in May, the most recent data available, was 8.5%, below both the unemployment rate for Virginia (9.2%) and the United States (13.0%).

GO Virginia Region 8 Council Leadership Transition

George Pace, a well-known and highly respected business leader from the Shenandoah Valley, has tenured his resignation from the GO Virginia Region 8 Council.  Mr. Pace will be leaving his post as Chair and member of the Region 8 Council to focus his time and efforts on helping the UVA Health System navigate the challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic where he serves as chair of the UVA Physicians Group Board of Directors. Mr. Chris Kyle, Vice President of Shentel and current Vice Chair of the Region 8 Council, will assume Mr. Pace’s duties as Chair.

GO Virginia – a statewide initiative created by Virginia’s senior business leaders to foster private-sector growth and job creation through state incentives for regional collaboration by business, education, and government – was first launched in 2016. Mr. Pace played an integral role in establishing the Region 8 Council from the very beginning. Region 8 encompasses two planning districts and 16 counties and cities across the Shenandoah Valley, stretching from Winchester to Lexington.

Under Mr. Pace’s leadership, the Region 8 Council funded numerous projects including a certified welding program in Rockbridge County, a cyber security workforce training program at Blue Ridge Community College, the Shihadeh Innovation Center in Winchester, an agricultural enterprise center feasibility study for the Shenandoah Valley and, most recently, the Scale-up the Valley Economic Gardening program being offered through the Shenandoah Valley Partnership.  In total, nine GO Virginia projects totaling more than $1.7 million have been funded by the Region 8 Council.

Study Team Selects Ag. Center Consultant

In response to a Request for Proposal released in March 2020, 14 highly-qualified firms representing 8 states submitted proposals to conduct the Agricultural Enterprise Center Feasibility Study. The CSPDC formed an 8-member Study Team composed of potential Ag. Center users and representatives from businesses and organizations who support local food production, to assist with the review process, and serve as a vital resource throughout the study.

After conducting a rigorous review process, New Venture Advisors (NVA), an agriculturally focused firm based out of Chicago, Illinois was selected. The interview team was most impressed by NVA’s related experience, understanding of agriculture, team cohesiveness, and adaptability. In July, NVA began work on the study that is expected to conclude in May 2021.