6/7/19 Tobacco Commission Meets In Danville

Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission

Commission Approves 35 Funding Requests for Projects in Southern and Southwest Virginia and Launches Talent Attraction Program

Richmond, VA – The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission met on Thursday, June 6th to give final approval for 35 funding requests. The 35 requests total more than $18.5 million and will support projects across Southern and Southwest Virginia. The total funds to be disbursed break down as follows: $7,909,964 for broadband expansion, $3 million for the Talent Attraction Program, $2,923,500 for workforce financial aid, $2,564,269 in competitive education grants and $2 million in funds for the Virginia Department of Health Student Loan Repayment Program. Additionally the Commission authorized various extensions for existing projects. The individual requests approved ranged in size from $26,559 to $1.9 million.

The Commission also approved the creation of the TRRC Talent Attraction Program, which replaces and better targets the Commission’s prior 4 year loan forgiveness program, which will provide loan repayment for over 200 new or returning talented residents within the tobacco region. The Commission funded the program in the amount of $3 million. The Talent Attraction Program (TAP) is designed to encourage recent graduates to live in the Tobacco Region and work in targeted, hard-to-fill occupations by providing up to $12,000 annually in student loan repayment with a two-year commitment. This 2 year period may be renewed for a further 2 years for a total possible repayment of $48,000 over 4 years. To be eligible for this program students must have:

1. graduated within the past 18 months of the application deadline
2. reside within the Tobacco region during the 24 month period during which the award is made and
3. begin full-time employment in the tobacco region within 6 months of the award letter in one of the following occupations within the region:

-Public School Teacher in Science, Math, Technology/Computer Science, or Career and Technical Education (Grades 6-12)
-Public School Special Education Teacher K-12
-Speech Language Pathologist
-Physical Therapist
-Occupational Therapist
-Industrial or Electrical Engineer
-Information Security, Network, or Computer Systems Analyst

Applicants will also be asked to become significantly civically engaged in their community. Examples of this include volunteering with local non-profit or government activities such as the United Way, Junior League, Ruritan Club, PTA, food banks, coaching youth sports etc. with a total annual engagement of at least 50 hours per year.

The Commission also committed $2 million to further fund the Virginia Department of Health State Loan Repayment Program. Eligible occupations for this program include Physicians, Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants, Dental Professionals, Mental Health Professionals, Registered Nurses and Pharmacists. Specialties that are eligible under each occupation, as well as additional info about the VDH program can be found at this link: VDH-SLRP Program

The Commission funded 14 Last Mile Broadband Program requests that will provide over 16,000 new homes and businesses with a high-quality broadband connection of at least 10 Mbps. Increasing access to broadband internet has long been a Commission priority and this latest investment builds on significant investments made over the Commission’s 20 year existence. Over just the last 2 years the Commission has invested in projects that will provide access to more than 47,000 homes and businesses.

The Commission funded 21 Workforce Financial Aid and Competitive Education grant requests that will benefit thousands of students across the tobacco region. The approved requests cover in-demand areas such as Nursing, IT and Cybersecurity, Workforce preparedness and more. The Commission has invested significant resources in education and workforce development over the years to increase the competitiveness of the tobacco region.

The Commission also adopted the guidelines for the Small Business Entrepreneurship Support Program which will begin accepting applications this summer. This program will provide a limited number of small businesses within the tobacco region with access to GENEDGE business consulting services as well as Commission mentorship and media exposure. The goal of the program is to help small businesses that have grown past the initial “start-up” stage but have not yet grown to maturity advance their path to commercialization and ultimately their ability to bring new jobs and investment into the region.

Tobacco Commission Chairman, Delegate Terry Kilgore said, “I’m excited about the investments the Commission made particularly in education and broadband expansion. Expanding broadband access and educational opportunities in Southern and Southwest Virginia is critical if we are going to be successful in developing the diverse economy we want in these regions. I think the investments made by the Commission at this meeting are a big step in the right direction.”

The Tobacco Commission is committed to developing a diverse economy in Southern and Southwest Virginia. The funding requests approved over the two day meeting will continue to move the region toward that goal.

Contact: Jordan Butler
Telephone: 804-786-7692
Cell: 757-692-0878
Email: jbutler@revitalizeva.org
Website: www.revitalizeva.org