Contact: Connie Long, 757-412-2664/
City of Charlottesville, Town of Rocky Mount, Shenandoah Valley Region, and City of Virginia Beach all named winners with best practices nominations
          Williamsburg - The Virginia Economic Developers Association (VEDA) announced the selection of the City of Charlottesville, the Town of Rocky Mount, the Shenandoah Valley Region and the City of Virginia Beach as winners in three different population categories of the 2016 Community Economic Development Awards (CEDA). The awards were presented earlier this month at the Association's Spring Conference in Williamsburg.
            The Town of Rocky Mount was nominated and selected in Population Category I with a population of less than 5,000 people. Nominated by Assistant Town Manager, Matthew Hankins, the submitted project was entered under the Community Development, Business Attraction and Community Involvement areas of the CEDA program. Rocky Mount's innovative Harvester Performance Center is revolutionizing Rocky Mount's traditional business district through music tourism by attracting music lovers. The Harvester aggressively schedules music, comedy, and stage performances, putting on upwards of 170 shows annually with world-renowned acts on the venues two stages. Centrally located between the Uptown and Downtown revitalization projects, the building's two-story, brick-and-steel shell was originally designed as a tractor dealership, hardware, and dry goods store. The Town Council purchased the building to refit it as a live performance venue. The impact on the economy was immediate, particularly in the hospitality and retail sectors, and the town expects more growth as new entrepreneurs compete for tourism dollars. Every aspect of this project, including conceptualization, development, funding, political discourse, construction, and operation, is innovative, unique, and tailored to the market, not just for Rocky Mount, but scalable for many communities which need a new basis for attracting people to their downtowns.
The City of Charlottesville was the recipient of the award in Population Category IV with a population of 40,001-100,000 people, incorporating Community Involvement in their nomination. Hollie Lee, Economic Development Specialist for the Charlottesville Department of Economic Development submitted the nomination for the City's GO Driver (Growing Opportunities Driver): Job-Driven Workforce Development campaign.  Concerned that 30 percent of Charlottesville residents live below the poverty line, City Council tasked city staff to discuss workforce development in Charlottesville. Their report, entitled Growing Opportunity: A Path to Self-Sufficiency in Charlottesville, recommended training programs that align with the needs of the business community in the Charlottesville area. GO Driver, is a four-week training program that prepares low-income City residents for employment as Relief Transit Bus Operators with Charlottesville Area Transit. A departure from traditional training programs, GO Driver leads the way with its job-driven approach by offering workplace and technical skills training that tie directly to a job upon program completion. The GO Driver model of job-driven workforce development training could be easily transferred or replicated in other jurisdictions. GO Driver has pioneered a new model of creating self-sufficient employment for Charlottesville's residents. As a result, several other successful job-driven workforce development programs have been created in the City.
            The CEDA award in Population Category V (>100,000) was presented to the City of Virginia Beach for their project that incorporated Business Retention, Expansion, Community Development, Business Attraction and Community Involvement. Nominated by Michelle Chapleau, Business Development Manager, Virginia Beach Department of Economic Development, this program dealt with NAS Oceana's inclusion in the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission's list of recommended base closures. The BRAC Commission's solution was to condemn all property in the area adjacent to NAS Oceana, an effort that would destroy the fabric of Virginia Beach, the region and the Commonwealth.  In addition, the BRAC plan would not have effectively reduced encroachment, even if pursued for decades. Virginia Beach developed an innovative plan to roll back encroachment in the area surrounding NAS Oceana and worked closely with the Navy as it created a plan to meet not only the BRAC Commission's mandates, but also the needs of the military and the local community. The plan focuses on three components - zoning changes, property acquisition, and a conformity program, which reduces incompatible development while promoting conforming uses. In a unique arrangement, the city and the Commonwealth of Virginia contribute a combined total of $15 million per year to make sure the plan has the necessary funding to accomplish its mission. In an effort to recruit and retain conforming businesses, such as wholesale trade, distribution and manufacturing operations, the city launched, an aggressive incentive program geared specifically for commercial business. The program also helps relocate nonconforming businesses from the zone to other areas of the city. This program serves as a model for other localities grappling with the problem of encroachment around military bases and for communities facing future BRAC Commission closure/relocation rounds.
            The Shenandoah Valley Region was also presented with a CEDA in the population five category for Business Retention, Expansion, Community Development, Business Attraction and Community Involvement for their Valley Career Hub in 2015 campaign to broaden awareness of high-demand, high-growth, high-wage careers in their region and promote local training opportunities for these careers. Nominated by Joan Hollen, Marketing Specialist, Shenandoah Valley Partnership, the initiative started as a partnership with Harrisonburg-based TV station WHSV-TV3 called "In Demand Local Career Opportunities," featuring over two dozen high-paying career options in high-growth industries throughout the Shenandoah Valley where there is a substantial demand for a qualified workforce.  The year-long campaign has consistently focused on matching great jobs with accessible, efficient training in the Shenandoah Valley for futures that ensure solid wages and growth opportunities. The overall goal is twofold: to enhance the regional economic development efforts for business growth by ensuring a strong, skilled, consistent workforce pipeline in years to come, while also ensuring individual economic opportunity and meaningful career paths for citizens. One of the most critical assets of Valley Career Hub has been the collaborative spirit which is inherent to the success of the project.  The campaign has been led by a small group of economic development and workforce professionals at the local, regional, and state level with support and participation from the Governor's office, private sector business leaders, academic partners and training providers, hospitals, utility providers, and even the local airport. The broader goal of this effort is to demonstrate the Shenandoah Valley's dedication to creating the workforce talent necessary to nurture our existing businesses while also enticing new economic development prospects. SVP will continue to promote and accelerate Valley Career Hub, taking the message to the next level by providing an enhanced marketing and outreach strategy to continue to relay the message that high-wage, high-demand, high-growth careers abound in the Valley, and the training to achieve success in these careers is available and accessible.  
 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 eighth year for VEDA's Community Economic Development Awards.
            David Denny, Chairman of VEDA's CEDA selection committee, said, "The CEDA Committee was extremely pleased with the quantity and quality of nominations we continue to receive in our eleventh year of this awards competition, receiving 13 applications this year.  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
            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 550 economic development professionals and related industry professionals from across the state of Virginia. For more information about VEDA visit the website at
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