SAW Housing Summit Partners Launch Community Conversation Series


In partnership with the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge, Augusta Health, Valley Community Services Board, and Valley Homeless Connection, the CSPDC is coordinating community conversations focused on pressing housing issues in our region.

These community conversations are intended as a follow-up to the SAW Housing Summit, held on October 11 and 12. The conversations will focus on topics that were not able to be included in the Summit agenda, but that have emerged as important housing topics to stakeholders in the region.

The first community conversation will be a ‘Sip & Speak’ session at the Embrace Waynesboro Community Center (932 Fir Street) on October 26th at 9am. Participants will be joined by Elizabeth Coltrane with Blue Ridge Legal Services to discuss challenges that renters in the Valley face and landlord-tenant concerns. Coffee will be provided. The second session will be a brown bag ‘Lunch & Learn’ at the Staunton Innovation Hub on November 9th at 12pm. At this session, Lydia Campbell with Valley Community Services Board will share her expertise on the Housing First model, and discuss innovative approaches to addressing homelessness in our community.

The SAW Housing Summit partners plan to hold additional future community conversations based on participant interest. We hope you are able to join us!

CSPDC Adopts Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy

On October 16, the CSPDC adopted the 2023 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). As the region’s 5-year plan for economic development, the CEDS provides a vision and a blueprint for greater economic prosperity and growth. Through extensive research and data analysis, an evaluation of regional trends, and a thorough community engagement process, the CEDS leverages and capitalizes on the region’s assets to create an action-oriented plan that promotes quality, sustained economic growth. The updated CEDS defines a renewed Vision for the region, along with revised goals, objectives, and strategies that were determined through the stakeholder engagement process. The primary areas of focus over the next five years include: 1) Workforce Development; 2) Business Attraction and Retention; 3) Housing; 4) Placemaking and Community Building; and 5) Resilience. The plan can be found HERE.

CSPDC Begins LDD Outreach Meetings

CSPDC staff kicked off the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) READY Local Development District (LDD) program with stakeholder outreach meetings involving local government and community leaders. Meetings occurred with local government representatives from the counties of Bath, Highland, and Rockbridge, the cities of Buena Vista and Lexington, and the towns of Glasgow, Goshen, and Monterey in August and September. CSPDC followed up with an ARC READY LDD presentation to community leaders in September and October.

Currently, the remaining stakeholder outreach meetings are scheduled in the Rockbridge Area on October 12 at 11 AM (Virginia Innovation Accelerator in Buena Vista) and on October 26 at 11 AM (Virginia Horse Center in Rockbridge County/Lexington). Over the course of the next several months, CSPDC staff will facilitate stakeholder engagement meetings to develop, prioritize, and compete for federal funding to source locally developed projects.

Initial regional feedback on areas for community improvement generally involve housing (inventory, affordability, quality), infrastructure (poor condition, aging, non-existent, needs expanding), workforce development (economic growth, jobs, livable wages), and wraparound services (daycare/childcare). Targeted funding includes, but is not limited to,  the American Rescue Plan Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. For more information on the ARC and their READY Appalachian programs visit:, or contact the CSPDC at (540) 885-5174.

MPOs Launch New Websites

Both the Staunton Augusta Waynesboro Metropolitan Planning Organization (SAWMPO) and the Harrisonburg Rockingham Metropolitan Planning Organization (HRMPO) have new websites. PDC staff worked with the communications consultant company Avid Core to facilitate the transition of both websites to the WordPress platform.

Each of the websites have been refreshed and reorganized to be more visually appealing and easier to navigate. In addition to improved navigability, the HRMPO and SAWMPO websites include Google Translate to provide translation options for visitors who would prefer to access the websites in a language other than English.

The new websites will keep the MPOs’ work, past and current, accessible to the public as we engage with them on planning matters inside the MPOs.

Visit the new MPO website at for the Harrisonburg-Rockingham MPO and for the Staunton Augusta Waynesboro MPO.

MPOs Hold Joint Policy Board Meeting

Since 2017, the Charlottesville-Albemarle, and Staunton-Augusta-Waynesboro Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) have had an agreement in place to coordinate planning activities of mutual interest to both regions. A Memorandum of Understanding documents the collaboration between the two regions, with a focus on transportation-related projects along the I-64 and U.S. 250 corridor.

The formal agreement between the two MPOs dates back to September 2017, but the MPOs have been discussing projects of regional significance at joint Policy Board meetings since 2015. The two Policy Boards met annually from 2015 to 2019. The meetings were placed on hold in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and did not occur until September 27 of this year, when the two groups came together to revive the meetings. Traditionally, the location of the meeting alternates between the two regions. This year’s meeting was hosted by the SAWMPO and held at the Fishburne Military School in Waynesboro.

On the agenda were presentations on three projects of regional interest – the Afton Express bus service presented by Paula Melester (Regional Planner, CSPDC) and Kendall Howell (Asst. Director for Transportation, UVA Parking & Transportation); the restoration of the Crozet Blue Ridge Tunnel presented by Dwayne Jones (Director of Parks & Recreation, City of Waynesboro); and an update on the Three Notched Trail, presented by Jessica Hersh-Ballering (Principal Transportation Planner, Albemarle County) and Allie Hill (Chair of the Three Notched Trail Planning Group). District leaders from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Sean Nelson and Todd Stevens provided updates on projects in each of the two regions. Zach Trogdon and Tiffany Dubinsky made remarks on behalf of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT).

The meeting was a success with over 50 people from both regions in attendance. The guests enjoyed the presentations and appreciated the opportunity to gather with colleagues. One attendee said they enjoyed how celebratory the meeting felt with each region sharing news of projects they had been working on in the three years since the last meeting was held.

During the meeting, each Policy Board held a vote to reaffirm the Memorandum of Understanding. Both votes resulted in unanimous support for the continued partnership. The next joint meeting will be held in the fall of 2024 and will be hosted by the Charlottesville-Albemarle MPO at a location to be determined.

Shenandoah Rail Trail Welcomes Senator Kaine

Senator Tim Kaine returned to the Shenandoah Valley on September 22 to meet with local elected officials and business owners to hear about the progress made toward turning the 48.5-mile corridor into a trail. After listening to the group in Front Royal, Senator Kaine said, “The more model trails are up and running, the more small towns can see the benefits and want to get on board,” emphasizing the importance of demonstrating how successful rail trails can be for small businesses and Valley communities.

The Rail Trail Partnership also launched a new website ( with an interactive map, opportunities to donate to the Friends of the Shenandoah Rail Trail non-profit, and a sign-up for news updates. Rail Trail social media channels on Facebook and Instagram now showcase upcoming events and videos demonstrating the transformative power of rail trails to small communities like the nine towns along this corridor.

GO Virginia Approves SVCAL’s Go2Work

At its September 12 meeting, the GO Virginia State Board unanimously approved the Shenandoah Valley Center for Advanced Learning’s (SVCAL) proposal for the Go2Work program. Partnering with local governments and local industry leaders, Go2Work aims to get students ready for high demand jobs in our region, particularly in the manufacturing and transportation sectors.

SVCAL will use GO Virginia funds to add new career education and technical programs for students in industrial maintenance, aviation technology, and heavy equipment as well as to make significant upgrades to its equipment for training high school and adult apprenticeship students in precision machining, welding, and auto and diesel technology.

SVCAL’s campus is in Fishersville and serves the public school systems of Augusta County, Staunton, and Waynesboro. Adult education extends into neighboring counties.

SVCAL is coordinating with Blue Ridge Community College to offer dual enrollment for some programs which means students can get a head start on their careers while still in school and smoothly transition into jobs or advanced training. The program will not only benefit students, but it will also boost the local workforce with highly skilled employees.


Annette Patterson Selected for ARC Fellowship

On September 26, 2023 the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) announced the 40 fellows who were selected for the 2023-2024 class of the Appalachian Leadership Institute. The fifth annual class of fellows were selected through a competitive process from public, private, and non-profit leaders across the 13 Appalachian states. Annette Patterson, President of The Advancement Foundation, was one of two fellows selected from the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Annette founded The Advancement Foundation in 2007 to advance her passion for business and community development. Under her leadership, The Advancement Foundation developed Virginia’s largest business program and competition, The Gauntlet, which has served nearly 1,000 entrepreneurs, leveraged the expertise of over 300 industry leaders, and captured over $8M in resources to support business and community development.

The Appalachian Leadership Institute is a comprehensive leadership and economic development training opportunity for people who live and/or work in Appalachia and are passionate about helping their communities thrive. Fellows will participate in an extensive training curriculum developed by the ARC in partnership with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; The Howard H. Baker Jr. School of Public Policy and Public Affairs; Tuskegee University; and Collective Impact, LLC. The all-inclusive, nine-month program runs from October to July and includes skill-building seminars, best practice reviews, field visits during six separate sessions across the Appalachian Region, and a capstone graduation event held in Washington, D.C.

Beyond Solar Ordinances Webinar

The webinar “Beyond Solar Ordinances” will be held October 26 from 10:30 to Noon to help localities stay abreast of best practices for this evolving land use. It will cover comprehensive plan and solar policy approaches, host siting agreements, mitigation regulations for impact on farm and forest, and the emerging issues of data centers, battery storage, and transmission infrastructure.

Speakers from The Berkley Group, Eldon James & Associates, Advantus Strategies, Hefty Wiley & Gore, and regional conservation groups will share their experience and knowledge. The webinar is hosted by Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley and Piedmont Environmental Council in partnership with the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission, Northern Shenandoah Regional Commission, and Rappahannock Rapidan Regional Commission.