USDA-Rural Development Programs Showcase Scheduled

In partnership with USDA-Rural Development, the CSPDC will be hosting a USDA-RD Programs Showcase presentation on Wednesday, April 19 from 9am-12:30pm at the Virginia Horse Center in Rockbridge County. At the event, USDA-RD will provide an informative overview of their programs, including loans and grants, that help to improve economic prosperity for the families and businesses in the Central Shenandoah Region. USDA-RD will provide presentations and one-on-one networking with specialty experts in the fields of rural business, community facilities, water and environmental programs, single family housing, and telecommunications. Dupont Community Credit Union and the Shenandoah Community Capital Fund will also give brief presentations to share the economic development services they provide to the region. This event is made possible through the support of event sponsors Dupont Community Credit Union and BARC Electric Cooperative.

Local officials, planners, economic development staff, administrators, housing professionals, community service providers, farm market managers, lending professionals, and small/rural business owners are encouraged to attend this free event. Registration is required by April 14th, and can be found here. Light breakfast, coffee and tea, and mid-morning snacks will be provided. Don’t miss this chance to talk to USDA-RD program specialist and learn how these programs can benefit your locality or organization! To view the agenda, click here.

Shenandoah Rail Trail Update

The Shenandoah Rail Trail Partnership continues to expand support and secure funding to acquire, design and construct the 48.5-mile trail between the Town of Broadway in Rockingham County and the Town of Front Royal in Warren County. The Partnership recently secured a $3 million congressional earmark for partial design and engineering of the Trail.

In late 2022, the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) also allocated $1 million to VDOT to finalize the full scope, schedule and cost estimate to design, engineer, and construct the Trail as the Commonwealth evaluates how it may acquire the out-of-service rail corridor. The Partnership continues to keep  local governments and community organizations along the corridor informed about successes and next steps.

For more information on the Rail Trail Partnership’s activities and updates on the Trail progress, visit

BRITE Request for Proposals for Mobile Data Collection System

The Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission (CSPDC) is soliciting proposals from qualified firms for a system to administer mobile data collection for BRITE Bus fixed route operations. The mobile data collection system (MDCS) will be a foundational technology for BRITE, transitioning from more manual methods of collecting data while also providing a rich data source to support operations and planning. The purpose of this RFP is to contract with a system provider to deliver a MDCS that includes but is not limited to: production, installation, configuration, hosting, training, licensing, maintenance, and support. The CSPDC intends to award one contract for the entire solution. Please click here to access the RFP.


Update on Regional Housing Study

In September, the CSPDC and Virginia Center for Housing Research (VCHR) concluded several months of focus groups and interviews with realtors, lenders, service providers, developers, universities, and employers for the Regional Housing Study. The focus groups were held in Buena Vista, Fishersville, Monterey, and through several virtual sessions. On October 26th, the CSPDC and VCHR convened the Regional Housing Study’s Leadership Team for their second meeting to discuss the findings of the focus groups and determine next steps for data analysis. The housing study scope allows for more detailed data analysis of up to five subtopics, to be selected by the CSPDC in partnership with the leadership team. At the meeting, the group worked collaboratively to select the five subtopics based on the focus group and interview feedback.

The five subtopics for additional data analysis will be:

  • Impact of universities and student population
  • Seniors
  • Vulnerable populations (homelessness, substance use disorder, etc.)
  • Naturally occurring affordable housing
  • Living arrangements (overcrowding, multigenerational housing, etc.)

Over the next several months, VCHR and the CSPDC will continue data analysis – the most recent American Community Survey data is expected to be released in December, and all data will be refreshed to reflect the most recent demographic trends. Additionally, the study team will begin drafting local data profiles for the Interim Data Report, which is expected to be completed in Spring 2023.

Highland County Recreation Commission Kicks off Outdoor Recreation Strategic Plan

The Highland County Recreation Commission (HCRC) received a technical assistance grant through the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program to develop an outdoor recreation strategic plan for Highland County and the HCRC. The Strategic Plan will identify how the HCRC and its partners can enhance outdoor recreation facilities, develop new recreation opportunities, improve community health, and cultivate a community culture that values physical activity and the environment in Highland County.

The year-long strategic planning process kicked off on October 24th as National Park Service Staff met with stakeholders and visited recreation sites around Highland County. The resulting deliverable will be a 5-year plan the HCRC, the County, and partner organizations can follow to successfully 1) expand outdoor rec facilities in the Town of Monterey, 2) develop outdoor recreation opportunities in the surrounding county, and 3) grow outdoor recreation programs and events that promote community wellness and ecotourism. The CSPDC is providing grant writing services and grant administrative support.

Mountain Gateway Project Awarded EDA Grant

The development of Mountain Gateway Community College’s (MGCC) Workforce and Entrepreneurial Center just got a boost from a $3 million grant through the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Assistance to Coal Communities initiative. Funding will be used to renovate an existing building in downtown Buena Vista as a manufacturing training center and entrepreneurial innovation laboratory. The project will expand the college’s capacity to deliver training and award industry credentials to meet local employers’ workforce needs in the areas of advanced manufacturing, machining, welding, HVAC, and diesel mechanics. The facility also will serve as an innovation lab where entrepreneurs can exchange ideas and collaborate as they start or grow businesses. As a designated EDA Economic Development District, the CSPDC provided technical assistance for MGCC’s application.

Update on PDC Housing Development Grant

The PDC Housing Development Grant, which provides gap funds to affordable housing developers in our region, is well underway with seven partners across the region working toward the development of 60 new housing units.

Several projects, including Valley Supportive Housing’s Pump Street Apartments, Friendly City Development, LLC’s Suter Street Neighborhood Development, and Foley 11 LLC’s Foley Road Efficiencies Project, are in the process of completing engineering & design work and are awaiting permitting before breaking ground.

The Fairfax Hall Rehabilitation Project in Waynesboro received a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) award in early Fall which will finance a significant portion of the project, and is completing final project financing, planning, and design specifications. They plan to begin work in 2023.

Our Community Place’s Block House Apartments project has begun initial demolition and building rehabilitation work, and initial interior construction activities are underway.

Rockbridge Habitat for Humanity’s Greenhouse Village Project has completed water and sewer connections and has begun initial site work on two of the eight home sites. On October 4th, CSPDC staff made a site visit to check out the future home sites for the final phase of the Greenhouse Village project, and had a chance to walk through a recently completed Habitat home.

All projects are expected to be completed by June 30, 2024.

IRF Grant Applications Due on Nov. 4

Applications are now being accepted for the FY2023 Industrial Revitalization Fund (IRF) Planning Grant, which is available to help bolster early-stage projects, enabling feasibility studies and other planning-related activities for potential IRF applicants in Spring 2023.

Applications must be received no later than 11:59 PM on November 04, 2022. Please review the FY2023 IRF Planning Grant Guidelines and the How-to-Apply webinar recording for additional details before submitting an application. If you have any questions, please email

Celebrations Ensue for the Maury River’s Scenic River Designation

Rockbridge Outdoors along with Rockbridge County, The City of Lexington, and The City of Buena Vista will commemorate the Maury River’s designation as a Virginia Scenic River this October. The local jurisdictions are throwing a community ceremony and reception at Jordan’s Point Park on October 16th at 2:00 pm. In early April, legislation passed to designate the remaining portion of the Maury River as a Virginia Scenic River. Now the entirety of the Maury, which flows through Rockbridge, Lexington, Buena Vista, and Glasgow, is part of the statewide program. Virginia’s Scenic Rivers Program intends to help protect rivers that possess outstanding scenic, recreational, and natural characteristics. To be awarded this designation, the local governing body asks DCR to conduct an eligibility study and then requests their state legislator to sponsor a bill.