CSPDC Receives $100,000 Grant to Help Appalachian Communities Access More Federal Funds

This award will help the CSPDC expand technical assistance for its ARC communities of Bath, Highland, Rockbridge, Buena Vista, and Lexington seeking federal funding.

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), in partnership with the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, recently announced the award of nearly $2.5 million in funding to 26 Local Development Districts (LDDs) in nine Appalachian states. The Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission (CSPDC) received $100,000 and was one of six awards in Virginia. The award will help expand CSPDC staffing capacity to better support eligible localities throughout the region in identifying, accessing, and implementing federal funding through American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), and other funding sources.

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is a regional economic development agency representing a unique partnership of federal, state, and local government. Established by an act of Congress in 1965, ARC is composed of the governors of the 13 Appalachian states and a federal co‐chair, who is appointed by the president. Local participation is provided through multi‐county Local Development Districts (LDDs) with support from community, business, and civic leaders. Each year Congress appropriates funds for ARC programs, which ARC allocates among its member states for economic development programs such as a safe and efficient highway system; education, job‐training, and health care programs; water and sewer systems; and entrepreneurial and capital market development.

The Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission (CSPDC) has served as the Local Development District (LDD) since 1980. Located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, this LDD includes five ARC communities: Bath County, Highland County, Rockbridge County, City of Buena Vista, and City of Lexington. There are also three incorporated towns in the district:  Glasgow, Goshen, and Monterey.

The grant award comes through READY LDDs, one of four key economic development tracks that make up READY Appalachia, ARC’s new community-capacity building initiative. The program offers free training and flexible funding for nonprofit organizations, community foundations, local governments, and LDDs located in the Appalachian Region.

“ARC remains committed to working with our partners in our Local Development Districts to build parity throughout all of Appalachia, and this latest round of funding will augment the work these Local Development Districts are doing to help their communities utilize unprecedented amounts of federal funding across the region,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin.

“This award will greatly assist the CSPDC in helping our localities identify and obtain federal funds that will be invaluable to our communities, business, and citizens as we recover from the lingering impacts of the pandemic,” said David Blanchard, CSPDC chair and Highland County supervisor.

Discover Transit in June

BRITE Bus and the Afton Express are joining the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) in celebrating transit during the month of June. The “Discover Transit” campaign sponsored by DRPT runs from mid-April to June 2023 and highlights the many public transit options riders have throughout the Commonwealth. Locally, we are proud to promote our very own BRITE Bus system which serves the cities of Staunton and Waynesboro, and Augusta County, with a small footprint in southern Rockingham County and the city of Harrisonburg by way of the Blue Ridge Community College Shuttle. Also in the Staunton, Augusta, and Waynesboro region is the Afton Express – our commuter bus connecting the valley with Charlottesville and Albemarle County via the I-64 corridor.

Discover Transit encourages Virginia residents to return to transit or try transit for the first time. It focuses on the community connection that transit creates. Here in the Staunton-Augusta-Waynesboro (SAW) region, BRITE Bus connects residents to their most important destinations. With eight different routes, BRITE Bus regularly helps people get to work, essential appointments, and to run errands. In addition to these fixed routes, BRITE also offers ADA Paratransit Service for individuals with disabilities that prevent them from accessing the standard fixed-route bus stops.

BRITE Transit and the Afton Express are running a fare-free promotion on Wednesday, June 21st in celebration of this campaign. In addition to BRITE Bus, there are a number of transit options throughout the CSPDC region. We encourage you to try one of these services during the month of June! Visit the following transit agency websites below to learn how public transit can get you where you need to go.

Harrisonburg Dept. of Public Transportation (Harrisonburg & James Madison University)

BRITE Bus (Staunton, Waynesboro, Augusta County, and parts of southern Rockingham County)

Afton Express (Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County)

Rockbridge Area Transportation System (Rockbridge, Alleghany, and Bath Counties)

RADAR (Buena Vista, Lexington, and Rockbridge County)

You can also visit https://connectingva.drpt.virginia.gov/ to view all public transportation options statewide.

Shenandoah Rail Trail Partnership Holds Ten Community Meetings

Between February and April 2023, the Shenandoah Rail Trail Rail Partnership conducted a series of ten community meetings to inform and engage the public about the Shenandoah Rail Trail. The proposed trail would convert an unused rail corridor between Broadway and Front Royal into a 48.5-mile multi-use trail running through nine towns, three counties, and near numerous schools, businesses and cultural resources. There is enthusiasm and momentum for the Shenandoah Rail Trail as the Partnership moves forward to the next phase of the project, which includes acquiring the rail corridor, continuing to talk with trail neighbors, and starting the preliminary trail design. The Partnership will hold its annual meeting in June, 2023 to share updates and maintain enthusiasm and momentum as the project moves into its next important phase.

Goshen Applies for CDBG Grant for Community Service Facility

On June 1st, the Town of Goshen applied for a Community Improvement Grant under the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. If awarded, the grant would provide $1,250,000 to support the development of a multi-purpose community service facility in Goshen. The Town envisions that the facility will significantly improve quality of life for town residents and the surrounding area by creatively providing an array of essential services under one roof. The community center would address the community’s most pressing needs by providing health care, healthy food, senior services, and recreational opportunities to those who currently lack easy access to these basic amenities. Grant awards are expected to be announced in the Fall.

Shenandoah Valley Aviation Technology Park Hangars Near Completion

Construction of the first two corporate hangars in the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport’s (SHD) Aviation Technology Park is nearly complete. Occupancy is expected in July. SHD was awarded funds through a USDA Rural Development loan and a $2 million Economic Development Administration matching grant to construct the two hangars and associated office space. Each hangar is 14,000 square feet. Related improvements included road and taxiway access, parking, and site work. The project is anticipated to generate 50-75 high-paying jobs.

SHD also was awarded funding through GO Virginia to further develop the Aviation Technology Park. To construct future hangars, sewer and water utilities need to be relocated from the middle of the 58-acre site to its perimeter. GO Virginia previously funded the design and engineering of the utility project and is now supporting its construction phase. The Aviation Technology Park is expected to be a regional employment hub with a concentration of aviation-related businesses. The CSPDC provided technical assistance with the grant applications and is providing grant administration services. The Airport Commission includes representatives from the counties of Augusta and Rockingham and the cities of Staunton, Waynesboro, and Harrisonburg.

Bolster Joins CSPDC

Steve Bolster joins the CSPDC as their newest regional planner. He began serving with the CSPDC team on May 22nd. Steve previously served as the Rockbridge County Fiscal Services Director for over 10 years. He completed his Master’s degree in Public Administration from Touro University International. Steve earned his undergraduate degree in Management from Mount Olive College.

Steve is originally from Los Angeles, California. He and his family moved to Lexington in June 2006 where he served five years as an AFROTC Instructor at the Virginia Military Institute. Steve retired from the USAF in the fall of 2011. He currently lives in Rockbridge County with his wife Tammy and their two dogs Rosie and Bailey. Steve is looking forward to serving with our regional partners with a goal to make a positive impact in our communities.

SAWMPO Intersection Safety Study Nearing Completion

The SAWMPO is completing a safety analysis of six intersections in Augusta County, Staunton, and Waynesboro. The intersections are: Churchville Avenue/Thornrose Drive and Coalter Street/Statler Boulevard in Staunton; Laurel Hill Road/US 11 and Laurel Hill Road/I-81 Exit 227 northbound ramps in Augusta County; and Delphine Avenue/I-64 Exit 96 westbound ramps, and Delphine Avenue/Windsor Road in Waynesboro.

The recommendations highlight safety improvements at each intersection that localities and VDOT can use to apply for projects through grant funding programs. The final study will be available on SAWMPO.org in June.

CTB to Consider Six-Year Transportation Funding Program

The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) will consider approving the FY2024-2029 Six-Year Improvement Program (SYIP) at the June Board meeting. The SYIP allocates public funds to highway, road, bridge, rail, bicycle, pedestrian and public transportation projects, and the public can search projects and costs on VDOT’s SYIP website.

The SYIP is updated annually, and documents proposed projects for design, right-of-way, and construction over the next six years from programs like SMART SCALE.


MGCC Wilson Workforce Center Project in Buena Vista

CSPDC representatives are supporting Buena Vista (BV) efforts to secure a $1M DHCD Community Economic Development program grant to leverage other funding sources to renovate a former Courtesy Ford dealership building in BV’s designated Opportunity Zone. The approximately $5.3M+ project will transform the 18,750 square foot facility into the Mountain Gateway Community College (MGCC) Wilson Workforce Development Center. When finished, the center will train students for in-demand jobs such as: HVAC, building trades, electrical, plumbing, industrial technology, precision machining, welding, diesel mechanics, and CDLs. These employment fields are included in the State’s FastForward program, which provides tuition assistance to students training for in-demand jobs.

MGCC officials expect to grow their ability to deliver workforce training by 200% and see enrollment rise by at least 120%. In addition, the center is estimated to assist with creating or retaining 110 jobs and spawn $2M in private investment in the region. The initial phase of the renovation project is planned for later this calendar year with an estimate to begin classes for the Fall 2024 semester. Other funding  sources include: the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the MGCC Real Estate Foundation, and the City of Buena Vista.