RD321 - 2012-2013 Center for Rural Virginia Annual Activity Report

Executive Summary:
*This report was replaced in its entirety on November 19, 2013 by the Center for Rural Virginia.

The Center for Rural Virginia (The Center) focused 2012-2013 on preparing the organization for transition and setting a strategy for the future. The Center benefited from a partnership with the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia. The partnership included a working group which produced a specific focus for the Center on areas and issues of most importance to rural Virginia. This working group conducted a strategic assessment of the six economic essentials the Center has traditionally built its work around to narrow the Center’s focus and ensure specific results for the future. This results-oriented approach produced a more clear and mission-focused agenda for the Center. Finally, the Board appointed a new executive director to take over from long-time leader and advocate for Rural Virginia, Glen Sink, in August of 2013. The Board unanimously appointed Christy T. Morton. The leadership transition coincided nicely with the strategic planning process.

In addition to transition activities, the 2012-2013 year for the Center for Rural Virginia consisted of continued efforts to serve as a catalyst for collaboration among leaders and stakeholders dedicated to improving the quality of life throughout rural Virginia. The Center for Rural Virginia Trustees worked closely with the Council for Rural Virginia Board, operating together under a Collaborative Activities Agreement as the Virginia Rural Center, to maximize stakeholder engagement. Staff worked to build coalitions and provide leaders with proven, powerful tools to enhance rural research, policies and practices at the regional and local level. The Center works with various organizations including, state and local chambers of commerce, planning district commissions, economic development marketing organizations, local economic developers, the Rural Caucus of the Virginia General Assembly and other leaders at all levels of the public and private sector to stimulate and accelerate the interests of Virginia. This partnership helped to broaden policy and program innovation throughout rural Virginia. The ultimate goal is to create more vibrant rural communities and to contribute to the increased economic vitality of the Commonwealth.

While Virginia has seen economic and demographic shifts in recent decades, rural Virginia remains a critical and vital resource to the ultimate success of the Commonwealth. Rural communities throughout Virginia contribute significantly to Virginia’s economic vitality and quality of life. These communities will work to address challenges and capitalize on the opportunities presented, including environment, agricultural growth and food supply, abundant and affordable energy, and arts and culture. Each of these examples are unique to rural Virginia. The Virginia Rural Center will build partnerships and strategic coalitions to support policies and projects that improve the quality of life in rural Virginia for the betterment of prosperity throughout the entire Commonwealth.

The Virginia Rural Center Board identified Six Rural Economic Essentials as the guiding principles for its work. These “Essentials” are (i) Education and Workforce, (ii) Community Capacity, (iii) Economy and Jobs, (iv) Infrastructure, (v) Health and (vi) Agriculture and Natural Resources. The Center partnerships and sector relationships address these elements in each of the rural regions.

In 2012-2013 the Center Board completed the establishment and adoption of the Center’s "Action and Value Proposition." This strategic plan sets forth the Center’s work as an advocate for rural Virginia, working to resolve institutional impediments, identify and share best practices, and expand the exchange of information throughout rural communities.