HD6 - Inter-Agency Task Force for Economic Development in Southwest Virginia (2022 Appropriation Act, Item 115.V.2.)
On July 22, 2022, Governor Youngkin signed HB30 into law enacting the Commonwealth’s budget for the 2022-2024 biennium. The budget bill established an Inter-Agency Task Force to review and make recommendations to support economic development in Southwest Virginia (appendix 1). The Secretary of Commerce and Trade designated the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to lead the Inter-Agency Task Force and work with stakeholders to identify the necessary programs, resources and policy changes required to support workers and communities in Southwest Virginia.
In addition to DHCD, the Inter-Agency Task Force was made up of designees from several state agencies including the Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority (VEDP), Virginia Energy, the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC), the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the Secretary of Labor, the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA), the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission and the Virginia Community College System (VCCS).
The budget language authorizing the Inter-Agency Task Force directed the members to initially review and make recommendations on its findings regarding four specific programs:
1. Establishment of a downtown revitalization matching fund for communities of less than 2,000 people.
2. Expansion of the Tobacco Commission's Talent Attraction Program
3. Support for the Southwest Virginia Energy Park, known as the Energy DELTA Lab
4. Support for the Energy Storage and Electrification Manufacturing project
Recommendations by the Inter-Agency Task Force represent the development of local capacity to foster vibrant places, attract and develop a strong workforce, and pursue large-scale, innovative energy solutions to support continued innovative economic diversification:
• Regional coordinated capacity development efforts including with state agencies, task force stakeholder and local government partners to explore initial steps in overcoming challenges of limited staffing, funding and grant management.
• Investments in a “regional revitalization capacity fund" could be tapped by communities and regional partners and counted toward matching requirements in state and federal applications.
Talent Attraction Program
• Explore expansion of the Talent Attraction Program, potentially to include an increase in the number of awards and the breadth of educational outreach and industry target areas.
Energy DELTA Lab
• Continue to support efforts of the Energy DELTA (Discovery, Education, Learning & Technology Accelerator) Lab initiative in an innovative and comprehensive process, evaluating all feasible solutions to achieve a reliable, affordable, competitive and environmentally responsible energy grid.
Energy Storage and Electrification Manufacturing Project
• Support the Energy Storage and Electrification Manufacturing project as a continued approach toward building diverse marketing opportunities within the energy sector.
• Continue conversations with industries capitalizing on the energy storage opportunities in the region.
Through this report, recent successful projects and initiatives will illustrate the region’s positive economic development efforts toward overcoming challenges or obstacles highlighted by previous studies. This report builds from previous Virginia Energy and Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) reports but will not specifically discuss findings from those reports. The intent of this report is to further strengthen the collaborative spirit of local and regional partners and continue the innovative approaches to grow the Southwest Virginia economy.