HD67 - Report of the A. L. Philpott Southside Economic Development Commission
In 1990, the General Assembly adopted House Joint Resolution No. 106 (HJR 106), establishing a commission to propose recommendations to "improve and enhance the economic development of the Southside region of the Commonwealth." The 23-member Commission, chaired for two years by the late A.L. Philpott, Speaker of the House of Delegates, included one member each from the House Committees on Appropriations, Finance, Agriculture, Education, and Labor and Commerce; one member each from the Senate Committees on Finance, Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources, Commerce and Labor, and Education and Health; and members from Southside Virginia, including two representatives each from local governments and from the business and industry communities, two local economic development officials, one representative each from the banking community, a major utility, and a four-year institution of higher education, and a community college president. The manager of the Southern Regional Office of the Division of Industrial Development, Department of Economic Development, served as an ex officio member of the Commission.
The full Commission met five times in 1990 to examine the economic challenges facing Southside Virginia. Aided by its task forces on Education, Training, and the Workforce, Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resources, Finance, Marketing, and Incentives, and Infrastructure, the Commission pursued a wide variety of issues, including community development, expansion and diversification of existing industry, strategies to attract outside enterprise, public-private partnerships, and initiatives to increase the educational levels and technical skills of the region's workforce. Meetings were hosted by community colleges, a continuing education center, and other entities throughout the region not only to facilitate travel but perhaps also to provide a closer look at the valuable resources and programs available in Southside.
The Commission's interim report, House Document No. 42 (1991), included 13 recommendations, addressing a wide spectrum of economic development concerns. Of these recommendations, four were supported by legislation. The magnitude and complexity of the economic challenges facing Southside, however, justified further study of potential strategies for change. The Commission supported and the 1991 Session of the General Assembly adopted House Joint Resolution No. 300 (HJR 300), which authorized the Commission to continue its study for one additional year. The resolution directed the Commission to continue its review and evaluation of methods of enhancing economic growth in Southside and to consider financing alternatives, partnerships between government, higher education and the private sector, and other related issues. Commission and task force membership continued as appointed in 1990.
The Commission called six meetings in 1991, providing a forum for the exploration of specific initiatives to revive the economy of Southside Virginia. Supplementing these meetings were three public hearings held in Franklin, Farmville, and Martinsville. Throughout the year, the Commission sought the expertise of leading economic development specialists, representatives of area industry, and education, as well as the Secretaries of Economic Development and Natural Resources, the Commission on Population Growth and Development, the Department of Aviation, and area Congressmen. Its 1992 report, House Document No. 45, contained a comprehensive 58 recommendations. These recommendations were supported by 12 pieces of adopted legislation; nine budget amendments; and correspondence with cabinet secretaries and agency leaders. A number of recommendations were carried over for further study.
The adoption of House Joint Resolution No. 71 (HJR71) by the 1992 Session ensured the continuation of the Commission, renamed the A.L. Philpott Southside Economic Development Commission, to monitor the implementation of its recommendations. The Commission continued its exploration of transportation and infrastructure issues, the permit approvals process, educational opportunities for Southside students, and other economic development concerns. An October meeting with the Joint Commission on Health Care afforded Commission members the opportunity to examine pressing rural health care needs. Following its fifth and final meeting of 1992, the Commission provided an orientation session for newly appointed members of the Southside Virginia Marketing Council and the Southside Virginia Development Authority.