Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission



Blackstone, VA – The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission held its third and final meeting of the year on Thursday, October 12th, in Blackstone. The Commission approved 22 funding requests in support of a variety of organizations and initiatives across Southern and Southwest Virginia. Eleven awards went to community colleges, and other educational organizations, to support workforce training in areas such as nursing, automotive and welding. Other awards will support a variety of economic development projects ranging from industrial site improvements, establishing new meat processing capacity and supporting regional tourism initiatives. The awards approved at this meeting build on the Commission’s nearly 25 years of work helping to rebuild the economies of Southern and Southwest Virginia. The Commission also approved extensions and modifications for a number of projects.

Tobacco Commission Chairman, Senator Frank Ruff said, “I am delighted that we could hold the Tobacco Commission meeting in Blackstone at the recently opened Inn at Blackstone. From supporting our agricultural community, to attracting top businesses and ensuring we have the sites and assets to be competitive, the work the Commission has done here will have a long-lasting impact on the regions it serves.”

Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade and Tobacco Commission Acting Executive Director, Hon. James E. Campos added, “The projects approved at this meeting are a perfect example of the great work the Commission does for the regions it serves. Governor Youngkin’s Compete to Win strategy makes note of the importance of workforce education, site development and of driving innovation. The projects approved here in Blackstone align with that vision and will help develop the diverse economy the Commission is working towards for Southern and Southwest Virginia.”

The following projects were approved for funding by the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission (Please see the meeting packet on our website for full project descriptions, staff comments, grant requirements and other business, including project extensions and modifications):

Southern Virginia Committee

Southern Virginia Agribusiness

4167, Campbell County

Expanded Southern Virginia Precision Agriculture and Farm Efficiency – $272,000 Grant

The goal of the program is to encourage producers to incorporate new practices that increase their operation’s outputs and cost savings. This grant will expand the reach of the Precision Agriculture program by allowing more farms to benefit. These funds will serve as cost-share reimbursements directly to producers for implementing these new practices and technologies etc.

4161, Institute for Advanced Learning and Research

Connecting Southern Virginia Producers with Markets Through Value Chain Coordination – $104,452 Grant

This grant will support a new Value Chain Coordinator position in the region for a period of two years. The Value Chain Coordinator will connect institutional buyers, food hubs, and other purchasers with farmers to increase net farm output and income, and diversify agribusiness in the region. This grant will also help cover costs for a software solution for connecting producers with buyers, website development, marketing and travel costs.

4166, Institute for Advanced Learning and Research

Supporting Controlled Environment Agriculture Industry in Southern Virginia – $145,841 Grant

This grant will provide assistance to expand Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) in Southern Virginia. It will accomplish this by establishing a testing service for the CEA industry by hiring a research technician and expanding outreach efforts by providing educational materials to growers based on data generated from studies conducted to address common issues faced by CEA producers.

Southern Virginia Business Development

4163, Institute for Advanced Learning and Research

Business Development & Talent Attraction for Investment in Southern Virginia – $325,563 Grant

This grant will provide matching funding (50%) to add a Talent Attraction and Retention Director to the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance staff, as well as marketing resources, to sustain the steady pipeline of investment opportunities that can be converted from prospects to companies in the region.

4164, Virginia’s Growth Alliance

Refresh/Restart+ Focused Business Development – $51,950 Grant

This grant will provide funds for a diverse business development program based on VGA’s recently completed Strategic Economic Development Action Plan. The program will include website modifications/enhancements, new marketing materials, working with Lead Generation specialists, hosting FAM tours of the region and participating in key lead generation events and opportunities to network directly with prospects.

Southern Virginia Sites & Infrastructure

4159, Brunswick County

Stonewall Industrial Site Development Project – $1,117,230 Grant

This grant will provide 50% of the A&E and construction costs for development of the pad ready site. Overall the Stonewall Industrial Site Development Project will provide a much needed “shovel ready” industrial site for Brunswick County and allow Brunswick County to compete in a highly competitive market.

4155, Campbell County

Seneca Commerce Park Grading Project – $404,918 Grant

This grant will allow the locality to complete revisions to engineered designs and support costs for improvement to a 100,000-square-foot pad-ready site in Seneca Commerce Park with Virginia Department of Transportation access. This will raise the VEDP site characterization level from Tier 2 to Tier 4 and Tier 5 depending on the lot and significantly improve the marketability of the site.

Southern Virginia Tourism

4160, Town of Brodnax

Brodnax Depot Renovation Project – $183,507 Grant

This grant will provide funds to renovate the vacant, historic depot to serve as a trailhead facility for users of the Tobacco Heritage Trail. Funds will be used to perform site work, building renovations and purchase bike racks. This effort is expected to result in increased visitor use of the trail, and increased visitor spending and tax revenue for the region.

4156, West Piedmont Planning District Commission

Regional Outdoor Recreation Economy Program – $118,000 Grant

This grant will aid in the development of a regional outdoor economy recreation program that will collectively market and brand the West Piedmont region’s outdoor recreation sites and activities as a noteworthy tourism destination. The project builds on current WPPDC programming in agritourism and the “Life in SOVA” brand in partnership with local and regional partners such as Friends of Southwest Virginia. The project will result in the creation of an outdoor recreation economy master plan and impact study for Western Piedmont PDC service region, providing an asset inventory and a marketing strategy with brand and logo.

Southwest Virginia Committee

4154, Tazewell County IDA

Ponderosa – $979,000 Grant

This grant will assist with the construction of a USDA Inspected meat processing facility in Tazewell County. TRRC will provide 50% of the funds for the project with Tazewell County providing the remaining 50%. Meat processing capacity is in high demand with farmers and producers often experiencing long waits to have their animals processed which adds financial strain to an already challenging business. This project will add capacity and help to alleviate some of that strain for Virginia farmers.

Education Committee

Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Training

4176, Central Virginia Community College Educational Foundation, Inc.

CVCC Advanced Manufacturing with Energy Technology Expansion – $220,878 Grant

This grant will aid CVCC in purchasing equipment for their Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Training programs that will expand program capacity and allow students to train on state-of-the-art equipment that accurately simulates their future work environment.

4178, Central Virginia Planning District Commission

ACA Classical & CTE Institute Welding Program – $318,255 Grant

This grant will aid the Appomattox County Government, Appomattox Christian Academy and central Virginia Community College in establishing the ACA Classical & CTE Academy. The partners will renovate the historic Carver-Price school in the Town of Appomattox and, in phase 1, will then offer programs in welding, emergency medical technician training and performing arts. The Commission’s investment will result in an increase in welding certifications/credentials awarded.

High School Equivalency Program

4169, Washington County Public School System Dba Mount Rogers Regional Adult Education Program

Southwest Virginia RACE to GED/NEDP Program – $140,000 Grant

This grant will provide financial assistance for high school equivalency testing in 16 Southwest region localities for a three-year period.

Post-Secondary Programs with a Focus in STEM-H

4171, Patrick & Henry Community College Foundation

Healthcare Training Expansion – $149,140 Grant

This grant will aid P&HCC in expanding healthcare training capacity including: Nurse Aide, Clinical Medical Assistant, Medication Aide, and Phlebotomy Technician training. These programs lead to short term credentials that quickly allow students to enter healthcare careers in high demand in the region. Commission funds will support a portion of the funds for an additional instructor.

4170, Southwest Virginia Community College

SWCC’s EquipEMT: Strengthening Emergency Medical Training through Advanced Equipment – $71,206 Grant

This grant will support the purchase of equipment for SWCC’s EMS program. Specifically, Commission funds will 50% of the cost of multiple training manikins which will result in a program enrollment increase.

4177, Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center Foundation

Southwest Virginia Regional Simulation Lab for Nursing and Allied Health – $600,000 Grant

This grant will support the development of the Southwest Virginia Regional Simulation Lab located at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center. The lab will support several existing healthcare programs and will provide additional clinical training space for allied health and nursing career pathways. Commission funds will be used for equipment purchases (manikins, A/V equipment etc.) and the renovation of space to house the lab.

Workforce Training Programs

4179, Danville Community College Educational Foundation, Inc.

Danville Community College’s Class-B Commercial Driver’s License Non-Credit Workforce Program – $233,081 – Grant

This grant will support DCC in standing up a Class-B Commercial Driver’s License program in response to requests from community partners. Commission funds will help pay for a modular mobile classroom and a CDL-B simulator with related training services.

4175, Mountain Empire Community College

Heavy Equipment Operator Program – $92,705 Grant

This grant will assist MECC in establishing a Heavy Equipment Operator II training program at MECC’s Center for Workforce and Innovation of Appalachia in response to regional and state demand for operators. Commission funds will be used to purchase equipment and supplies including a Bobcat Telehandler, safety cones and barrels and a laser level.

4172, Southside Virginia Community College Foundation

Accelerating Truck Driver Training at SVCC – $316,000 Grant

This grant will help expand SVCC’s Truck Driver Training program by adding additional trucks to the program fleet, replacing outdated equipment and hiring an additional training instructor, all in response to industry demand.

4173, Virginia Highlands Community College Educational Foundation

VHCC Diesel Technology Expansion – $202,300 Grant

This grant will help expand VHCC’s diesel technology programming through the purchase of additional equipment including high-capacity lift systems, heavy duty forklifts, high weight capacity diesel engine stands, a live front axel with air disc brake assembly and a large tire balancing apparatus.

4174, Wytheville Community College

Wytheville Community College WEST – Workforce, Education, & Skills Training Center – $277,000 Grant

This grant will assist WCC with the development of the WEST Center. Commission funds will help pay for the renovation of the facility, a former auto dealership, that will house the Center as well as the purchase of tools required to receive accreditation for the program. The program will offer programs in automotive, off-road diesel and welding.

Incentives & Loans Committee

Pittsylvania County & The City of Danville
Request for loan, Contingent Upon Successful Attraction of Major Tenant for Berry Hill

The Commission approved an up to $25 million loan to be used for the construction of a new gas gate at the Southern VA Mega Site at Berry Hill. Disbursement of loan funds requires a firm commitment that a project will occur at the proposed site.

Access to an adequate supply of natural gas at Berry Hill has been noted as an obstacle when it comes to attracting the kind of regionally transformative, large scale operation the site has been designed for. This loan will help to remove that barrier and allow the site to marketed with funding in place to meet the natural gas requirements of prospects.