From The President
The Commonwealth has experienced another long cold winter, but spring appears to be making its way into Virginia slowly but surely. VAPDC continues to take actions to remain relevant as an organization as well as individual PDCs. Our message of regional collaboration and cooperation is being spread throughout the State.
The VAPDC Winter Conference, A Regional Approach to Virginia's Workforce Challenges & Opportunities, was hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and featured speakers from their staff who covered such topics as Workforce Development and Human Capital; Community Pulse Survey; Economic Trends in Virginia; and Workforce Challenges and Opportunities. The VAPDC Winter Conference was held, for the fifth year, in conjunction with VACo County Government Day in Richmond. The Association also presented several awards at the Winter Conference (be sure to read about the recipients in this newsletter.)
The VAPDC Summer Conference and the end of VAPDC's business year are just a few short months away. This year we are back at the beach---Virginia Beach, that is. The host hotel will be the Virginia Beach Resort & Conference Center. Hotel reservations may be made by calling the hotel directly. The conference will be Wednesday, August 5 through Friday, August 7, 2015. Stay tuned for details and the activities that will occur as part of the Summer Conference. VAPDC also has its annual Business Meeting during the conference where we will elect the incoming Board of Directors and officers for 2015-2016. If you were unable to join us in Richmond, I hope you will find the time to participate in all the great sessions that will be offered at the 2015 Summer Conference in Virginia Beach. Conference registration will be open in June. Don't miss your opportunity to be a part of a great location and a meaningful conference.
VAPDC and its member commissions face challenges just like everyone else. By expanding our collaborative approach and finding additional economies of scale to tap into, we can continue to save tax dollars for our citizens and help the Commonwealth prosper. By continuing to tackle issues from a regional perspective to find solutions that work, VAPDC and Virginia will continue to move forward to success. As always, thanks for your help in making this happen! Keep up the great work!
Virginia's Planning District Commissions
Cumberland Plateau PDC
Mount Rogers PDC
New River Valley PDC
Roanoke Valley-Alleghany RC
Central Shenandoah PDC
Northern Shenandoah Valley PDC
Northern Virginia RC
Thomas Jefferson PDC
Region 2000 LGC
West Piedmont PDC
Richmond Regional PDC
George Washington RC
Northern Neck PDC
Middle Peninsula PDC
Hampton Roads PDC
VAPDC Connections is published quarterly by the Virginia Association of Planning District Commissions.
The deadline for the next issue of the newsletter is
July 15, 2015
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VAPDC 2015 Summer Conference
August 5-7, 2015 | Virginia Beach, Virginia
Held at the beautiful
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Virginia Beach, Virginia
Conference registration opens June 1, 2015
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2015-2016 Sponsor for VAPDC
The Virginia Association of Planning District Commissions (VAPDC) is pleased to announce its Sponsorship Program for 2015-2016. VAPDC Sponsors receive a wide array of sponsorship benefits as detailed below. Organizations wishing to serve as a sponsor for VAPDC in 2015-2016 should register online by July 10, 2015.
This is an opportunity not to be missed!
LENOWISCO Marks 50th Birthday
Wednesday, March 11, 2015, marked a significant date in the annals of regional progress in the far southwestern corner of the Commonwealth.
The LENOWISCO Planning District Commission turned 50 on that date.
In February 1965, the Counties of Lee, Scott, and Wise, and the City of Norton crafted a Memorandum of Agreement, pledging to cooperate in the creation of a regional planning and economic development commission, with the stated purpose of planning the physical and economic development of the region lying within those boundaries. This entity would be called the Lee-Norton-Scott-Wise Planning and Economic Development Commission.
An organizational meeting of the Commission was held at Riley's Restaurant in Big Stone Gap on March 11, 1965. In attendance that evening were L.B. Bright, J. Earl Hilton, C.F. Jester, W.P. Kanto, W.L. Mainous, Ralph Miner, Joe Rhodes, Burley Sloan, Charlie F. Smith, and Henry S. Stout.
The initial Board of Directors of the Commission consisted of Bright, Hilton, Jester, Mainous, Miner, Rhodes, Sloan, Smith, and Stout, plus Clyde Y. Cridlin and B.W. Frazier, Mr. W.H. Caldwell would become the Commission's first Executive Director in July of that year.
There is an interesting side note regarding the agency's eventual name change. According to August 1965 Board minutes, the phone company objected to listing the Commission's full, admittedly unwieldy name, so from subsequent discussion came the suggestion for a contraction. This contraction would also be used on stationery, with the full name in smaller letters accompanying it. Thus, the acronym LENOWISCO was born.
The Commission immediately threw its new, collective weight behind a number of significant regional projects, including improvements at Lonesome Pine Airport, improvements to U.S. Route 23 between the Kentucky and Tennessee state lines, and the expansion of Clinch Valley College, now the University of Virginia's College at Wise, from a two-year to a four-year institution. Many more would follow.
Over time, official recognition from a growing roster of federal and state agencies added both to the regional agency's clout and its responsibilities.
Executive Director Caldwell resigned in September 1966, with Carter L. Smith hired as his replacement shortly thereafter. Mr. Smith resigned in November 1967, to be succeeded in early 1968 by Bruce K. Robinette. Following a lengthy tenure, Robinette retired in 1991, succeeded by his long-time deputy, Ronald C. Flanary. Current Executive Director Glen A. "Skip" Skinner replaced Flanary upon Flanary's retirement in 2008.
CSPDC Helps Sponsor First Virginia Agritourism Conference
The Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission recently helped coordinate the first Virginia Agritourism Conference in Staunton Virginia. More than 150 agritourism farmers, economic development staff and local government leaders attended. The conference offered fresh ideas on event planning, marketing, regional networks, zoning, financing, legal structures, farm craft breweries and local wineries, bed and breakfast operations, food safety, and experience-based tips to make agritourism businesses a success in the rural economy.
Special guests included the Honorable Maurice Jones, Secretary of Commerce and Trade; the Honorable Todd Haymore, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry; Ms. Mary Rae Carter, Special Advisor for Rural Partnerships; and Dr. Ed Jones, Director of Virginia Cooperative Extension. Farm tours along the Fields of Gold Farm Trail featuring Cestari Sheep and Wool Company, Mt. Crawford Creamery, Polyface Farms, Meadowcroft Farm, and White Oak Lavender Farm were a popular part of the conference. The Fields of Gold Farm Trail is an agritourism program spearheaded by the CSPDC to promote the Shenandoah Valley as an agritourism destination.
Solarize NOVA Spring 2015 Kicks Off in Falls Church, Herndon and Vienna
Spring Deals for Homeowners to Add Rooftop Solar at Reduced Costs (April 1 - June 30)
Fairfax, Virginia - April 1 through June 30 solar power for homes will be easier and more affordable than ever thanks to another round of Solarize NOVA, a program that offers bulk purchasing discounts and free solar site assessments to homeowners in select communities in Northern Virginia. The program kicks off in Falls Church, Herndon and Vienna as a limited-time, one-stop-shop for community members to learn more about solar power options for their homes and facilitate the installation and financing of their own project.
This grassroots, community-based outreach initiative is sponsored by the Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC) in partnership with the Local Energy Alliance Program and the individual localities. Home and business owners will be reminded throughout the Spring that "Our clean energy future starts with your roof."
Solarize NOVA launched in the Fall of 2014 in the Town of Leesburg and Loudoun County. To date 16 solar array contracts valued more than $400,000 have been signed with a capacity of 117 kW. More than 100 free Home Energy Check-Ups were completed as part of the campaign. Visit www.solarizenova.org for more information.
VAPDC Honors Virginia Leaders, PDC at Winter Conference
The Virginia Association of Planning District Commissions (VAPDC) was proud to honor David Blount, F. Woodrow Harris, James A. Baldwin, along with New River Valley PDC, at the VAPDC Winter Conference in Richmond, VA.
David Blount was presented with the Gordon N. Dixon Award. The Gordon Dixon Award is intended to recognize a VAPDC commissioner or executive director who has provided leadership and make outstanding contributions to promoting the concept of regionalism in the Commonwealth of Virginia. David Blount has worked for the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC) since 1999. During his career, he has exhibited outstanding leadership in state and regional governmental relations within the PDCs, as well as for VAPDC. As VAPDC's Legislative Chairman, David has been instrumental in working to reinstate and secure funding for all PDCs. He continues to ensure that there is a connection between the Virginia General Assembly and the PDCs of Virginia. The success of his work is a direct result of his professionalism and ability to bring consensus. David exemplifies the values of the Gordon N. Dixon Award, in creating tremendous value for his regional community and raising the value and standing of PDCs across the Commonwealth.
F. Woodrow (Woody) Harris was presented with the Robert W. Baker Achievement Award. The Robert W. Baker Achievement Award is intended to recognize persons who have been involved directly in planning district commission activities and who have contributed significantly to promoting regional planning and development in Virginia. Past recipients include notable Virginians A. Linwood Holton and W. Tayloe Murphy. Woody has served on the Crater Planning District Commission (CPDC) and its Executive Committee since 1989; serving as Chairman for two years. Woody was first elected to the Emporia City Council in 1988 and continues to serve in that capacity. He represents the City on the Southside Criminal Justice Board and the Southside Regional Jail Authority. Like Bob Baker, Woody is an outstanding leader with a dynamic personality as well as an effective communicator for regionalism in the Commonwealth. He served a two-year term as President of VAPDC, helping to elevate the standing of PDCs within State government and to keep PDC funding intact. Woody's active interest in VAPDC and its programs has been instrumental in moving the Association forward and in developing a long-range strategic plan for the organization.
James A. Baldwin was presented with the President's Award. The VAPDC President's Award is intended to recognize an individual who has been involved directly in planning district commission activities and who has contributed significantly to promoting regional planning and VAPDC activities in Virginia. James A. Baldwin has served the Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission (CPPDC) over a 42-year career as a regional planner, director of planning, and ultimately executive director. Jim has spent both professional and personal time working with not only PDC localities, but also regional and state agencies on behalf of many constituents throughout Virginia. Jim has served on various local, regional and state boards including VAPDC, Virginia Coalfield Coalition; The Crooked Road; Virginia's Heritage Music Trail "Round the Mountain"; Southwest Virginia's Artisan Network; Appalachian Sustainable Development, Inc.; and many other organizations promoting regional cooperation.
The New River Valley Planning District Commission was presented with the Robert M. deVoursney Best Practices Award for the New River Valley Livability Initiative. The Robert M. deVoursney Best Practices Award recognizes organizations that have initiated regional activities which have contributed significantly to the effectiveness of a region. The award recognizes innovation, excellence, commitment and/or service to the advancement of regional planning and multijurisdictional cooperation. The award showcases the creative work and ability to leverage resources and services of Virginia's PDCs. The New River Valley Livability Initiative, funded from the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities, provided the opportunity for residents in the region to develop a vision of the future and identify strategies that businesses, community organizations, local governments and individuals can use to make the future vision a reality.
The Commission found highly innovative ways to engage citizens in genuine conversations about their communities, resulting in a planning document which is a foundation built upon six key community values identified during the process with four overarching themes, 18 priority goals and 177 strategies for implementation.
The three most substantial successes of the project are innovative outreach that secured authentic and genuine feedback from the public; community partnerships that are delivering positive change in the region; and 100 percent return on grant dollars through private investment within four months of closeout through the Solarize Blacksburg program. The Solarize Blacksburg model has been replicated across the state to 16 municipalities from the City of Richmond to Abingdon and numerous communities between.
Winning two Innovation Awards from the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO), this visionary initiative reflects the character of the New River Valley and has engaged nearly 3,000 residents. The commission is partnering with the Community Foundation of the New River Valley going forward to help raise local funds to address local challenges.
Accepting the award on behalf of the New River Valley Regional Commission was Board Chairman, Kevin Sullivan, and Executive Director, Kevin Byrd.
Hampton Roads Retail Sales
by James Clary, HRPDC Senior Economist
Hampton Roads seasonally adjusted retail sales were $1.80B in December of 2014. Regional retail sales passed the pre-recession peak in September of 2014 ($1.79B), but have only grown 1% over the past three months. While both the state and the nation experienced weak growth in sales, they had experienced stronger growth during earlier stages of the recovery. Hampton Roads retail sales are only 1.1% above their prerecession peak (March of 2007), and have grown 15.4% from the depth of the recession. In contrast, while U.S. retail sales declined by a similar extent, they grew by 33.8% during the recovery, and are now 17.2% above their prerecession peak.
Annual Sales Dynamics
Even as the overall level of regional retail sales has grown only modestly, the spending habits of the residents and visitors to Hampton Roads has changed significantly over time. Several categories that have seen significant expansion over the past seven years are general merchandise stores (+29%), food and beverage stores (+38%), and restaurants (food services and drinking places +39%). In contrast, revenues for building material stores (-26%) and accommodations (-17%) have not recovered to their prerecession levels, reflecting the damage that the recession had on the construction industry, and segments of the travel industry.
Internet sales continue to grow both in absolute terms and as a share of U.S. retail sales. In the 4th quarter of 2014, e-commerce rose to $79.6B, or 6.7% of national retail sales. While some e-commerce represents economic activity that was created through the broader marketplace which the internet provides, a significant portion of online sales are cannibalized from local businesses. There are several reasons that this creates issues. One, internet sales have historically exhibited a lower level of compliance with sales taxes. Second, internet sales do not support local retail corridors, which hurt local stores and lowers commercial property values. Finally, internet sales do not provide jobs in the local community.
Roanoke Valley's First Regional Pedestrian Vision Plan is Adopted
The Policy Board of the Roanoke Valley Transportation Planning Organization (RVTPO) approved the first Regional Pedestrian Vision Plan for the Roanoke Valley on January 22, 2015. The Plan reflects citizen input and local government collaboration to strategize how to improve walking as a transportation means for everyday trips. Through the development of a regional pedestrian network, in conjunction with supportive land development, attractive walking environments can exist so that people can walk to accomplish their daily needs with greater ease. The Roanoke Valley TPO is staffed by the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission.
Chesapeake Bay Program Seeks Public Input to Achieve Goals and Outcomes of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement
by Jenny Tribo, HRPDC Senior Water Resources Planner
The Chesapeake Bay Program is seeking public input on plans to achieve the goals and outcomes of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement. These twenty-five draft management strategies address the thirty-one outcomes of the Watershed Agreement and outline plans for the implementation, monitoring, and assessment of work toward the protection and restoration of the Bay and its watershed.
Drafts of the management strategies are available online. The Bay Program welcomes comments on these drafts through April 30, 2015. Interested parties can review the management strategies and submit comments on the Bay Program Management Strategy Dashboard website.
In June 2014, representatives from the six watershed states, the District of Columbia, the Chesapeake Bay Commission and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency signed the landmark Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement. This agreement marks the first time representatives from every jurisdiction in the watershed committed to full partnership in the Bay Program and collaborative restoration efforts.
Since the signing of the Watershed Agreement in June 2014, the Chesapeake Bay Program partners have been crafting "management strategies" that describe the steps necessary to achieve the outcomes identified in the Agreement. The strategies are organized into the following categories that mirror the 10 goals identified in the Agreement: abundant life, clean waters, engaged communities, conserved lands, and climate change resilience. The strategies will be further supported by two-year work plans summarizing the specific commitments, short-term actions and resources required for success.
NRV Livability Initiative Update
On February 12, 2015, the Livability Leadership Team hosted a regional convening to provide an update on progress within the partnerships, projects, and initiatives formed as a result of the Livability Initiative. Livability's three-year regional planning process concluded in November of 2013 with a regional information-sharing event. The initiative then moved to implementation, spearheaded by a partnership between the Community Foundation of the New river Valley and the Commission.
Seventy participants from throughout the region attended the event and were able to hear about on-going initiatives that are advancing
the vision and goals of the Livability Initiative. Speakers presented brief overviews on projects such as the Pearisburg Farm to Fork program, Solarize Blacksburg, the Appalachian Spring project, NRV
Passenger Rail study, the Market Place Farmer's Market in Pulaski, Smart Beginnings early childhood education initiative, the Floyd Innovation Center, Summit Place Assisted Living in Rich Creek, Blacksburg Broadband, and NRV Agritourism.
Participants then broke into small groups to share specific projects they were working on, challenges they were experiencing, or discuss opportunities for further collaboration.
The Livability Leadership Team has also released the first issue of a bi-annual newsletter, titled "Livability In Action," which highlights the projects listed above and will provide continual updates on future projects, collaborations, and initiatives related to the Livability goals.
The event concluded with a chance for all participants to mingle and connect further on upcoming projects.
Confirmed by overwhelming participant feedback, the Leadership Team plans to host the event annually in order to continue sharing progress and ideas from across the region.
For further information, please contact Jennifer Wilsie, 540-639-9313, ext. 204.
ReadyHamptonRoads.org Gets a Renovation
By Dawn Brantley, Regional Inclusive Emergency Planner
On April 16, the Ready Hampton Roads website, www.ReadyHamptonRoads.org, will have a new look. Along with the new look, the site will have improved functionality and new tools and information for residents and businesses to prepare and plan for an emergency, as well as suggestions and tips for recovery.
ReadyHR.org offers one place to:
- Connect with all the local emergency management offices
- View all the local emergency management websites without leaving ReadyHR.org
- Get real time weather alerts on every page
- Links to sign up for alerts in your community
- Information on how to prepare if you have extra needs such as medical needs, disabilities, or pets
Over the next several months, the region's emergency managers and Regional Public Information Subcommittee will be enhancing the content of the site to provide more in depth, practical information so stay tuned and keep checking back to see what's new and improved!
Grant Writing Workshop Scheduled for June
By Joe Turner, HRPDC Communications Manager
The HRPDC's Department of Grants Management is hosting a grant writing workshop at the HRPDC offices at 723 Woodlake Drive, Chesapeake, VA. Grant Writing USA, will present a two-day grants workshop on June 25-26, 2015.
Attendees will learn how to find grants and write winning grant proposals. This training is applicable to grant seekers across all disciplines. It is open to everyone, however seating is limited. On-line reservations are required (See link below to register.)
Tuition for the two-day workshop is $455 with multi-enrollment and returning Grant Writing USA alumni discounts available. Tuition includes course workbook and accompanying CD with writing tools and over 200 sample grant proposals. While preferred, tuition is not due when enrolling. See registration information for more details on how to pay by check or purchase order.
For more information including learning objectives, class location, graduate testimonials and online registration click the following link:
Register for Grant Writing Workshop
For specific questions about this workshop, contact:
Ms. Tara Walker
Senior Grants Manager
Hampton Roads Planning District Commission
VAPDC Honors Delegate Steve Landes as Legislator of the Year
Each year, VAPDC makes several awards to outstanding individuals that contribute to the well-being and success of their communities, their regions and the Commonwealth. One of the awards is Legislator of the Year. This year that award was bestowed on Delegate Steve Landes.
Delegate Landes was unable to receive his award at the VAPDC winter conference in Richmond in February so arrangements were made to present the award at the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission meeting on April 20th. Bonnie Riedesel, CSPDC Executive Director and David Blount, Legislative Liaison with Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission presented Delegate Landes the award. Delegate Landes praised the role that planning districts played across the state remarking that the collaborative work of planning districts made a huge impact on the local and regional economies.
Delegate Landes represents the 25th District in the Virginia House of Delegates which includes portions of Albemarle, Augusta and Rockingham counties. He is Chairman of the House Education Committee and Vice Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
During his time in the legislature, Delegate Landes sponsored successful legislation creating the Governor's Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund (AFID). He introduced bills in 2004 that resulted in the creation of the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry as part of the Governor's Cabinet, and the establishment of the Center for Rural Virginia.
Delegate Landes has a strong record of achievement in a number of areas PDCs support, including reducing unnecessary government spending, spurring jobs creation and economic development throughout Virginia, advocating for small businesses, and supporting farmers and ag-related businesses, especially in rural Virginia.
In his role as budget conferee, Delegate Landes supported maintaining funding for PDCs during past budget development cycles when State funding of PDCs was threatened by further reductions.
Hampton Roads All Hazards Advisory Committee Stands Up
by Joe Turner, HRPDC Communications Manager
The Hampton Roads All Hazards Advisory Committee (AHAC) held its first meeting March 24, 2015. The meeting marked the culmination of a two year process to consolidate regional emergency management planning activities.
The AHAC assumes the missions of the Regional Emergency Management Technical Advisory Committee, the Hampton Roads Urban Area Working Group, the Hampton Roads Regional Catastrophic Planning Team, the Hampton Roads Metropolitan Medical Response System Oversight Committee, and the Hampton Roads Interoperable Communications Advisory Committee. AHAC's purpose is to reduce duplication of efforts, enhance collaboration, and establish a governance structure with the necessary flexibility to enhance disaster prevention, preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation in the Hampton Roads region.
The creation of AHAC began back in 2013 when a report by the Hampton Roads Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Team concluded the region was at a crossroads with how to proceed with sustainment of regional emergency management planning. In its Regional Sustainment Framework, the Team cited that "the multitude of planning initiatives and grant programs that have been undertaken in the region have resulted in the unintentional side effect of creating an unwieldy number of planning organizations and working groups." Many of these organizations shared parallel missions, schedules, and agendas creating the unintended consequence of duplicating time and effort spent on critical emergency management issues facing the region. The Team concluded that as a result of a reduction in federal funding and the need for broader responsibilities for sustaining existing efforts, the region was primed to streamline and consolidate its emergency management planning activities.
The Hampton Roads Urban Area Working Group (UAWG) established a subcommittee that began a year long process to develop a charter for a consolidated regional organization for Hampton Roads' emergency management planning activities. In October 2014, the HRPDC approved the charter for the AHAC.
John Sadler, Emergency Management Administrator, will be the HRPDC staff support to the AHAC.
Hampton Roads Employment Grew in January 2015
by James Clary, HRPDC Senior Economist
Hampton Roads employment grew by 2,000 jobs in January of 2015, increasing employment to 758,000 (seasonally adjusted). This followed a decline of 1,100 in December of 2014, continuing a pattern of weak jobs growth regionally. Hampton Roads' average employment has grown at less than half the national employment growth rate with regional employment 23,200 jobs below the prerecession peak (a 3% decline). If Hampton Roads continues adding jobs at a rate of 400 jobs-per-month (the post-recession average), the region will not recover its employment peak (781,200) until November of 2019.
Hampton Roads' unemployment rate was 5.52% in January of 2015, but only 5.20% when adjusted for seasonal trends. Over the past year, the unemployment rate has declined by 0.7 percentage points, which has been driven by increases in employment. The fact that the labor force has grown consistently as the unemployment rate has declined demonstrates a strengthening in the regional labor market.
Revisions to the Data Create Challenges
The Bureau of Labor Statics uses two different surveys to produce the employment and unemployment data for the nation, states, and regions. The variability in estimates grows as focus moves from larger to smaller subsets of the labor market; therefore, the estimates need to be periodically benchmarked to the underlying data. The most recent data release featured an annual revision.
The employment trend continued to track the original estimates, but over the past eighteen months, the revised data indicated a slightly less volatile employment pattern. It also indicated that Hampton Roads employment was 4,500 jobs lower in December of 2014, as the revised data did not indicate the rapid employment growth in the second half of 2014.
At the industry level, the employment changes were more significant, changing not only the overall level of employment, but also changing employment trends within industries.
Scientific and technical services employment had a significant positive revision, with employment in this important sector increasing by 2,300. Other industries had significant negative revisions, with a decline of 3,500 in retail trade and a 5,500 decline in leisure and hospitality employment.
Hampton Roads Regional Population Increases According to Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service
by Greg Grootendorst, HRPDC Chief Economist
On January 27th, the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service (WCCPS) released their 2014 population estimates for Virginia, its cities and its counties. According to the data release, Hampton Roads' 2014 population was 1,715,518, up 7,022 (0.41%) from 2013.
The complete data set, along with an explanation of methodology is available online HERE.