Charlottesville - The Virginia Economic Developers Association (VEDA) announced the selection of Bedford County, City of Fredericksburg, and the Shenandoah Valley Region as winners in three different population categories of the 2013 Community Economic Development Awards (CEDA). The awards were presented last month at the association's Spring Conference in Charlottesville.
Bedford County was nominated and selected in Category Four with a population of 40,001 to 100,000 people. Nominated by the County's Existing Business Coordinator, Diana Cocke, the submitted project was directed at both the Business Retention/Expansion and Community Involvement categories of the CEDA program. The Bedford County Office of Economic Development holds quarterly Existing Business Roundtable Meetings to ensure a strong, diversified economy and positive business climate. It was during these quarterly meetings that local business managers pointed to the difficulty of finding well-prepared and qualified workers. With this concern in mind the Office of Economic Development initiated the Bedford One Program, linking high school students with local businesses based on the students' career interests. Initiated in 2007, the program has had nearly 1,000 students participate in 40 company tours to learn about the work and education involved at each company. This program is a prime example of what can be accomplished when the public school system, business, and economic development partner to achieve the same objective.
The City of Fredericksburg's first mixed-use development project was the recipient of the award in Population Category Three (15,001-40,000), incorporating Community Development in their nomination. Richard Tremblay, Assistant Director of the City of Fredericksburg's Department of Economic Development, submitted the nomination for this initiative to address the need for expanded student housing for the University of
Mary Washington (UMW) as well as enhanced retail and service offerings within walking distance to the campus. To accomplish this initiative the UMW Foundation purchased a 22-acre shopping center located directly across U.S. Rt. 1 from campus. The UMW Foundation, working closely with the city has completed Phase I of the project representing an investment of $115 million and containing a 624-bed premium student apartment facility; a 560-space parking deck, 31,000 square feet of ground-level retail space and 34,500 square feet of Class "A" office space. Phase II, now under construction by the Foundation, is the $15 million, 93-room Hyatt Place-Fredericksburg Hotel. This part of the initiative is an example of creative financing enabled by the city's Tourism Zone program, the new Virginia Tourism Development Financing Program and the entrepreneurial strength of the UMW Foundation.
The CEDA award in Population Category Five (>100,000) was presented to Virginia's Shenandoah Valley Region for their project that incorporated Community Involvement as well as Business Retention and Expansion. Nominated by Joan Hollen, Shenandoah Valley Partnership, the 21st Century Workforce Transitions project has experienced such positive outcomes that Valley leaders are committed to keeping the momentum going through regional collaboration and improved communication channels. The 21st Century Workforce Transitions project began in 2007 with an objective of preparing a Valley workforce ready to support economic growth in emerging high technology sectors. With workforce development challenges clearly defined during Phase I, the Shenandoah Valley Partnership formed the Shenandoah Valley Education and Workforce Committee. The Committee, comprised of members from the Valley's K-12 and higher education practitioners, state workforce providers and the business community, quickly began to address specific deficiencies identified in the assessment. To address an often cited problem, "employers do not know who to call" regarding training for their employees, the Committee creates an interactive training database, which was released to the public in January 2013 as a free resource for employers and employees to find education and training programs.
The CEDA awards are designed to recognize outstanding communities in the Commonwealth for their efforts in advancing the economic viability of their community through economic and community development programs. VEDA is following the format developed by the Southern Economic Development Council (SEDC) and will submit its eligible winners to SEDC to be considered by that organization for a southern states regional award. This is the seventh year for VEDA's Community Economic Development Awards.
Mike Lehmkuhler, Virginia Director to SEDC and Chairman of VEDA's CEDA selection committee, said, "We are extremely pleased with the number and quality of nominations we continue to receive in our seventh year of this awards competition. Virginia continues to lead the way for its sister southern states in the awards program." To see copies of each of the selected Community Economic Development Awards submissions link to www.GoVEDA.org.
VEDA is a member-based professional association committed to providing training and development; networking opportunities; and serving as the voice of the economic development community, creating economic opportunity and prosperity for the Commonwealth of Virginia. VEDA's membership is comprised of more than 540 economic development professionals and related industry professionals from across the state of Virginia. For more information about VEDA visit the website at www.GoVEDA.org.
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