CSPDC CEDS – Open for Public Comment

The Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission (CSPDC) is seeking public comment on the draft Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). The CEDS document is an economic development tool designed to leverage assets from across the Central Shenandoah Region to bolster the regional economy. The CEDS will prepare the CSPDC to pursue future funding opportunities with the Economic Development Administration and act as a roadmap for future economic development endeavors across the region.

The document, as well as the mandatory criteria used in the creation of the document is available for review at this link or at the CSPDC Office, 112 MacTanly Place; Staunton, VA 24401. Comments may be submitted to the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission at jeremy@cspdc.org or the above address. Comments will be accepted from September 15-October 15, 2023. The CEDS Committee will consider adoption of the CEDS document during the CSPDC meeting on October 16, 2023, at the CSPDC Office.

TAP Application Period Open

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is accepting applications to the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) this year. TAP is a subset of the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program (STBG) in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). Every two years, localities can submit project applications to TAP, which provides 80% federal funding for non-motorized transportation improvements. Eligible projects include sidewalks, trails, bike lanes, and all activities previously eligible under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act and Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).

The local applicant must provide the remaining 20% of the project cost. TAP applications are due by October 2, 2023. The City of Harrisonburg, the Town of Bridgewater, and Rockingham County are applying for TAP projects in this round. Of the eight projects being applied for by the City, Town, and County, five are sidewalk projects, two are shared use path connections, and one is for non-infrastructure Safe Routes to School activities. VDOT will review the applications and announce project awards in Spring 2024, with the projects funded through the FY 2025 Six Year Improvement Program to be approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board in June, 2024.

MGCC Workforce Development Center Holds Ribbon Cutting

On August 15, 2023, Mountain Gateway Community College (MGCC) President Dr. John Rainone cut the grand opening ribbon for MGCC’s interim Workforce Development Center in Buena Vista. The event marked the phase 1 milestone of constructing the Wilson Workforce Development Center in the former Courtesy Ford Dealership building. MGCC students began courses the following Monday (August 21st) in the McCormick Building at 2045 Forest Avenue. MGCC programs will encompass HVAC, building, electrical, plumbing, industrial technology, precision machining, welding, diesel mechanics, and CDL training for these in-demand career fields.

Local representatives taking part in the ribbon cutting included Ramsey Real Estate owner Skip Ramsey, Rockbridge County Administrator Spencer Suter, Lexington City Council member Marilyn Alexander, Rockbridge Odd Fellows Society Treasurer Tony McFaddin, Buena Vista City Manager Jason Tyree, MGCC President, Dr. John Rainone, MGCC Technical Services employee Billy Oulds, and Lexington Mayor Frank Friedman.

Virginia for Development-Ready Communities Workshop

The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development is hosting a Virginia for Development-Ready Communities Workshop with Joe Borgstrom of Place & Main Advisors on October 24 from  10:00AM –  3:30PM at the Church of the Incarnation, 75 N Mason St, Harrisonburg, VA. Attendees will be engaged in activities and learn how to determine their community’s readiness, evaluate market opportunities, and the right incentives to attract quality investments and investors. This half-day workshop includes modules on Property Marketing, Proforma 101, and Incentives. Join community leaders from across the state in this important learning opportunity – and get your community Development Ready!

$25 Early Bird registration (through September 15th)
$50 Regular (September 16th – October 15th)


The Afton Express Celebrates 2 Years of Service!

On September 1, 2021, the Afton Express took its maiden voyage across the mountain from Staunton, Fishersville, and Waynesboro to Charlottesville, Albemarle County, and the University of Virginia. Now, two years later it is still growing strong!

Ridership continues to grow steadily, improving each month as more commuters learn of the service. From September 2022 to August 2023, monthly ridership increased by 64%.

To celebrate this milestone, CSPDC staff will host pop-up events in Charlottesville and Staunton to engage with current and prospective riders.

Anyone interested in learning more about the Afton Express, or helping us celebrate this occasion, is invited to visit one of the pop-up events below.

September 14, 2023, from 3:30 – 6:00 pm at the University of Virginia, Hospital West Complex bus stop

September 28, 2023, from 4:00 – 7:30 pm at the Staunton Mall bus stop

The CSPDC would like to thank all the community partners who have helped this service succeed in these first two years. Our staff looks forward to year three and beyond!

Rideshare and BRITE Bus Participate in Discover Transit Month

The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) is engaged in the second “Discover Transit” campaign of the year.

Between mid-August and mid-September, DRPT is inviting Virginians to discover how public transportation can help connect them to the places they need to go.

The CSPDC’s Commuter Assistance Program, Rideshare, along with BRITE Bus will help promote the use of transit in our region. To encourage travelers to use transit, all BRITE Bus routes (including the Afton Express) will operate fare-free on September 20, 2023.

In addition to fare-free days, during the month of September, travelers who log their transit trips in their regional commuter assistance program’s smartphone app will be entered to win a $100 gift card courtesy of DRPT. Here in the central Shenandoah Valley, that would be the Rideshare App, which is available on both Apple and Android devices.

In addition to the statewide contest, riders who log their commute trips on the Afton Express will be entered to win additional prizes. Rideshare will select four winners in early October. All Afton Express commute trips logged in September will count as an entry for the drawing.

We hope you consider using transit for your daily trips this month. In the CSPDC region, you can explore routes in any of the following transit systems:

Harrisonburg Public Transportation Department (HDPT)

BRITE Bus & The Afton Express

RADAR Transit (Maury Express)

Rockbridge Area Transportation System

Or – visit ConnectingVA.org and use the Virginia Transportation Finder – a tool that will help you locate transportation options in your region.

Highland Inn Receives ARC Grant

The Blue Grass Resource Center will receive a $700,000 Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Construction Grant to support the completion of The Highland Inn Revitalization Project. On August 11th, Governor Youngkin recommended the Inn as one of sixteen projects in Virginia for ARC funding. The grant will fund Phase II of the effort to renovate the historic Highland Inn. Located on Main Street in Monterey, the Highland Inn is part of Highland County’s economic development strategy to increase tourism through retreat conferences and cultural events. In 2021, Phase 1 of the revitalization effort successfully stabilized and restored the Inn’s exterior. Phase II will restore the Inn’s interior, completing the final step necessary to reopen the hotel and restaurant.

For more information see: https://dhcd.virginia.gov/2023-appalachian-regional-commission-award-recommendations

CSPDC Welcomes New Program Specialist

Allyson Finchum joins the CSPDC as their Program Support Specialist with the CSPDC team on September 5, 2023. A native Virginian, born and raised in Arlington, Allyson earned her undergraduate degree at American University and received her Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from Virginia Commonwealth University. She has extensive planning, code administration and management experience in counties, towns and cities throughout Virginia, most recently serving as Town Manager for the towns of Bowling Green and Port Royal.  Allyson and her husband Mike currently live in Wintergreen.  She uniquely understands the issues facing communities and looks forward to assisting the localities in the CSPDC region.

SAW Walk-Bike Summit Set for October 20

The 2023 Staunton, Augusta County, and Waynesboro Bike-Walk Summit will be held on Friday, October 20, 2023 from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Russell Museum in Waynesboro. Breakfast and lunch will be provided.

The event will highlight the Virginia Capital Trail, Waynesboro’s South River Greenway, and the positive impacts of regional bike and pedestrian projects on health and economic development.

An optional walking tour of Sunset Park and happy hour at Basic City Beer Company will take place in the afternoon. The event is sponsored by Augusta Health, the Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley, the SAWMPO, RideShare, and other community partners.