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.

VTA Announces Inaugural Class of Fellows for the Virginia Transit Leadership Institute

The CSPDC is pleased to announce that Devon Thompson, Transit Planner, has been selected to participate in Virginia Transit Association’s (VTA) inaugural year for the Virginia Transit Leadership Institute (VTLI). VTLI is a groundbreaking program aimed at fostering the next generation of public transportation leaders in Virginia.

VTLI is a program initiated by the Commonwealth’s transit systems and the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DPRT), and is designed to engage, elevate, and cultivate emerging leaders in the public transportation sector. This nine-month comprehensive program is tailored to mid-level and future executives, providing them with a holistic understanding of transit from diverse perspectives across the Commonwealth. “VTLI represents a significant milestone in the advancement of Virginia’s public transportation sector, providing a platform for emerging leaders to cultivate their skills, collaborate with industry experts, and drive innovation. We look forward to witnessing the positive impact these fellows will make on our state’s transit landscape and the communities we serve,” said Danny Plaugher, Executive Director of VTA.

The VTLI planning committee meticulously chose 16 individuals among dozens of qualified candidates to participate in the program. Other agencies represented in the cohort include: Charlottesville Area Transit, Blacksburg Transit, Bay Transit, RVA Rapid Transit, Alexandria Transit Company, City of Fairfax, Hampton Roads Transit, Fredericksburg Regional Transit, Virginia Railway Express, Williamsburg Area Transit Authority, Ride Source, Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, DRPT, Greater Lynchburg Transit Company, and Mountain Empire Older Citizens.

About VTA – The Virginia Transit Association (VTA) is dedicated to enhancing public transportation in Virginia. With over 125 members, including transit agencies, businesses, regional entities, and nonprofit organizations, VTA works tirelessly to advocate for a more efficient and sustainable public transportation network, fostering economic prosperity, environmental responsibility, and community livability.


CSPDC Receives Housing Grants

In July, the CSPDC received notice of two grant awards from Virginia Housing. Collectively, these grants bring $1,725,000 in housing funds to the region. The CSPDC received an allocation of $1.7 million in funds through Virginia Housing’s Sponsoring Partnerships & Revitalizing Communities (SPARC) Program, a special allocation of reduced rate funding which provides a 1% adjustment to interest rates below Virginia Housing’s prevailing home loan rates. These funds will be used to complement the CSPDC’s existing First Time Homebuyer Program, which provides down payment and closing cost assistance to income-qualified homebuyers at 80% AMI or below. The CSPDC is currently completing initial program development activities with Virginia Housing and will begin outreach to Virginia Housing approved lenders in the coming month.

Additionally, the CSPDC received a $15,000 Community Impact Grant to conduct a Preliminary Architecture Report for a key property in Downtown Monterey. The building is the former home of the Highland Recorder Newspaper, and the property owner is partnering with the CSPDC, Highland County EDA, and Monterey town officials to assess potential future residential use. The study will kick off in August, and its findings will be used to determine best next steps for future re-development of the site for housing opportunities.

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.

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.

BRITE Title VI Plan – Open for Public Comment

BRITE Bus Transit and the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission (CSPDC) hereby releases for public comment the BRITE Title VI Plan. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ensures that no one shall be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance due to their race, color, or national origin.

The draft Title VI Plan can be reviewed online: Title VI Plan (DRAFT)

Digital or hard copies may be requested by calling the Title VI Coordinator at 540-885-5174. Copies for public review are available at the following locations:

  • Augusta County Government Center, 18 Government Center Lane, Verona
  • Staunton City Manager’s Office, 116 W Beverley Street, Staunton
  • Charles T. Yancey Municipal Building, 503 W Main Street, Waynesboro
  • BRITE Transit Facility, 51 Ivy Ridge Lane, Fishersville

Written comments may be submitted to BRITE Bus, 112 MacTanly Place, Staunton, VA 24401 or via email to devon@cspdc.org by 5:00PM on June 20, 2023. An official public hearing will be provided if requested prior to the end of the comment period. To request a public hearing, contact BRITE Bus no later than seven working days prior to the meeting.

BRITE Bus Transit and the CSPDC ensures nondiscrimination and equal employment in all programs and activities in accordance with Title VI and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If you have questions or concerns about your civil rights in regards to this program or require special assistance for persons with disabilities or limited English proficiency, please contact the Title VI Coordinator at 540-885-5174. Sign language or non-English language interpreters and accessible formats for the visually impaired will be provided if needed and requested from the CSPDC no later than seven working days prior to the meeting.

CSPDC Hosts Successful USDA-RD Programs Showcase at Virginia Horse Center

On April 19, the CSPDC hosted a USDA-Rural Development Programs Showcase at the Virginia Horse Center in Rockbridge County. The event was a great success with over 60 registrants, and presenters from USDA-Rural Development, Dupont Community Credit Union, BARC Electric, the Shenandoah Community Capital Fund, the Horse Center, and the Office of Congressman Ben Cline.

The event featured a comprehensive overview of the many grants and loans that USDA-Rural Development has to offer our region. Topics covered rural business, community facilities, water and environmental programs, housing, telecommunications, and electric programs. Dupont Community Credit Union and BARC Electric, both sponsors of the event, shared how USDA-RD funds have positively impacted their organizations and made regional improvements possible in the fields of housing and telecommunications.

The event was attended by local staff and elected officials, housing professionals, community service providers, farm market managers, lending professionals, and rural businesses around the region and served as a unique opportunity for organizations to discuss project ideas and funding resources with USDA-RD representatives.

CSPDC Staff, Regional Leaders Featured in Virginia Public Media’s Life in the Heart Land Series

Virginia Public Media (VPM) recently released a documentary series called Life in the Heart Land. The series takes a deep dive into the unique challenges facing Virginia’s rural communities, and the innovative solutions that are being implemented on the local, regional, and state level to solve them. The series spans across eight episodes covering food insecurity, justice reform, recycling and plastics, farming, housing, the Monacan Nation, agricultural workers, and broadband.

CSPDC Housing Program Manager, Olivia Raines, was featured in the Housing episode, and discussed some of the challenges surrounding the advancement of affordable housing as well as efforts to better understand our region’s specific housing challenges through the ongoing Central Shenandoah Regional Housing Study. The episode also emphasizes the lived experience of those experiencing housing insecurity, providing an in-depth look at the housing challenges that many families face daily. The docu-series features many other organizations that are working to promote rural prosperity in the Central Shenandoah region, including Jones Gardens, Allegheny Mountain Institute, Valley Community Services Board, Eastern Mennonite University, Blue Ridge Legal Services, BARC Electric Cooperative, and many more. If you are interested in viewing the series on the big screen, Visulite Cinemas in Staunton will be featuring two episodes for free each Sunday in May followed by a panel.

BRITE Transit Facility to Host Paratransit Roadeo

The 2023 Paratransit Roadeo will take place at the BRITE Transit Facility on April 29. Hosted by the Community Transportation Association of Virginia (CTAV), the Paratransit Roadeo draws drivers from around the Commonwealth to compete for top scores on a course that tests skills on every level of the drivers’ abilities, with a primary focus on safe operations and passenger sensitivity. There are two divisions for the Roadeo, both compete against other operators in their division. There are safety quiz, pre-trip inspection, and wheelchair securement portions of both divisions: Body on Chassis and Mini Van.

The event also includes a Young Professionals in Transportation Training and Networking Event April 27 & 28, and the training sessions will be held at the BRITE Transit Facility as well.

More information on CTAV and the Paratransit Roadeo can be found here.