ARC READY Local Governments Program Initiated in January 2024

On January 19, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) launched the READY Local Governments program as one of their READY Appalachia capacity-building initiatives. The READY Local Governments funding provides no-cost training to assist local government representatives with identifying, securing, managing, and implementing federally sourced projects. The kick-off announcement included a Notice of Solicitation of Applicants to guide potential participants that can be viewed HERE. 

No match is required for this virtual, nine-week program scheduled to begin in spring 2024. Interested parties can apply for the initial READY Local Government training program through February 29th. Course capacity is limited to 180 local government officials, with no more than two representatives per community.

To further assist communities, local governments are eligible for up to $50K in funding to initiate in-house capacity-building projects after completing the training program. No match is required. For more information on the READY Local Governments program, visit this ARC webpage.

CSPDC Commission Endorses Rockbridge Airport Feasibility Study Application

Following a presentation by former Rockbridge County Supervisor Buster Lewis, the Commissioners endorsed a Resolution of Support for the Rockbridge Region General Aviation Airport Feasibility Study at the February 5, 2024 meeting. The Rockbridge region is exploring the possibility of a General Aviation Airport in the area. The Virginia Department of Aviation and the Federal Aviation Administration can partially fund a feasibility study, which, in turn, would provide for an in-depth analysis of the potential project, a market condition analysis, an in-depth look at competition, and recommendations for a site.  CSPDC  will assist Rockbridge County, the City of Buena Vista, and the City of Lexington, with this initiative by applying for state and federal funding to conduct a feasibility study and administering the planning grant(s), if awarded.

CSPDC Regional Planner Completes Commuter Choice Certificate Program

Paula Melester, a Regional Planner on the CSPDC’s Transportation Team recently completed the Commuter Choice Certificate Program.

The Commuter Choice Certificate program, offered through the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida, is a prominent professional development program in the field of sustainable transportation. This comprehensive program takes two years to complete, with each participant required to earn 80 credits through synchronous and asynchronous online courses, homework assignments, and educational webinars. The program equips participants with specialized knowledge and practical skills essential for addressing the complex challenges of urban mobility. Through a carefully curated curriculum, participants delve into topics such as alternative transportation modes, transit-oriented development, congestion mitigation strategies, and policy advocacy. With a strong emphasis on hands-on learning and real-world applications, the program empowers individuals like Paula to become catalysts for positive change in their communities, promoting environmentally friendly and equitable transportation options that enhance the quality of life for all.

Paula will use this experience in her work on transportation and transit projects within the CSPDC region – particularly in her role as the Transportation Demand Management Coordinator for the region’s RideShare Commuter Assistance Program.

Augusta County to Receive Virginia Brownfields Assistance Funds

Augusta County will receive $50,000 in Virginia Brownfields Assistance Funds (VBAF) through the Virginia Economic Development Partnership for the Afton Mountain Renaissance project. These funds will allow the County to complete a water and wastewater assessment of the property located at the intersection of U.S. Route 250 and I-64 atop Afton Mountain. Augusta County is working with Timmons Group to complete several tasks to assess existing conditions on the property with the goal of creating a master visioning plan for future development on the site. Through this task, Timmons will conduct a full condition assessment of the existing water and wastewater systems on the site, provide recommendations, and draft a preliminary engineering report for specific water and wastewater needs to support future business development.

Timmons Group previously completed a land record research, compiled boundary survey, topographic survey, and a protected species and historical screening on the site. The Staunton-Augusta-Waynesboro Metropolitan Planning Organization (SAWMPO) is currently facilitating a vehicular traffic pattern and pedestrian/bicycle assessment of the roadways around the property. Combined, these studies and assessments will help the county and property owner better understand the best use for the property and what work is needed to prepare the site for redevelopment. The CSPDC assisted Augusta County with the application for the VBAF Grant.

FEMA Approves CSPDC Funding for Hazard Mitigation Plan Update

On January 25 the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) notified the CSPDC of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) approval decision to source a significant portion of the Central Shenandoah Valley Hazard Mitigation Plan (CSHMP) update. The CSHMP update cost estimate is $140,000. FEMA will provide 75% in funding, the State will source a 20% match, and the CSPDC will furnish the remaining 5% cost-share requirement. FEMA is also providing an additional $7K in sub-recipient management cost funds for the effort.

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Highland County Chosen for Economic Recovery Corps Fellowship

Highland County was one of 65 communities in the country selected as a host community for an Economic Recovery Corps (ERC) Fellowship. Led by the International Economic Development Council, the ERC program builds capacity in economically distressed areas across the U.S by placing a dedicated fellow — fully funded for two and a half years — in local communities to support and strengthen ongoing economic development efforts.

Highland’s ERC fellow, Landdis Hollifield, will begin working in Highland on Feb. 19th and will spend the next 30 months helping to implement Highland’s Strategic Economic Development Plan, which includes revitalizing the Highland Inn, supporting small businesses, enhancing visitor experiences, and launching a marketing campaign to attract younger residents and remote workers.

For more information on the ERC, visit: or check out the recent article in The Recorder.

Feedback Sought for Small Area Study Along Dinkel Avenue/Friedens Church Road

The Harrisonburg Rockingham Metropolitan Planning Organization (HRMPO) is developing a Small Area Study along Dinkel Avenue/Friedens Church Road from I-81 to Main St. in Bridgewater to identify the needs of the corridor and its future growth.
Share your feedback and let us know your concerns and visions for the future of Dinkel Ave. The survey is open through February 23rd at the link below or visit the HRMPO website to learn more.

2023 Facts & Figures Published

One of the CSPDC’s roles in economic development is to be a resource for data about the region and the PDC’s localities. To help support this important function, the CSPDC creates and distributes Facts & Figures, an easy-to-read snapshot of each sub-region’s people, jobs, schools, and other unique attributes. The 2023 Facts & Figures documents are now available on the CSPDC website.



2023 Population Estimates Released

The University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center released its official population estimates for Virginia counties and independent cities this January. The Weldon Cooper Center’s estimates provide an accurate approximation of a locality’s population count on July 1st, 2023.  Government agencies use this data for funding allocations, planning, and budgeting purposes.

The CSPDC’s 2023 population estimate is 310,528. From the prior year, the region’s population grew by 1,740 people or 0.6%. Since the 2020 Census, the City of Harrisonburg experienced the greatest growth. From 2020 to 2023, Harrisonburg added 1,180 people to their population count, a 2.2% population increase. In contrast, Rockbridge County, the City of Buena Vista, the City of Lexington, and the City of Staunton experienced a slight population decline since the 2020 Census.

The 2023 population estimates are available on the Weldon Cooper Center website. Yearly population data is also available on the CSPDC’s Regional Data Center.