Executive Director Updates

Region 8 February Update

February 23, 2024

Hello, Region 8 Stakeholders!

Welcome to our first e-newsletter. Our goal is to send these out periodically to keep you informed about the exciting things happening in GO Virginia’s Region 8 footprint.

About Growth & Opportunity Virginia

If you are new to Growth & Opportunity Virginia (GOVA), established by the Virginia General Assembly in 2017, we are a state-funded, business-driven funding organization for economic development. Since inception we have worked to reshape how Virginia’s nine regions cooperate on economic and workforce development efforts. Our goal is to foster high-paying job growth by encouraging collaborative efforts among businesses, educational institutions, and government entities. We strive to enhance and diversify the economy across all regions of the Commonwealth.

About GOVA in the Shenandoah Valley

Region 8’s footprint stretches from Rockbridge County to Warren County, encompassing the Shenandoah Valley and includes all of the cities as well. We currently have a 26-member council made up of leaders in the private sector, education, and non-profit sectors, and representing a diverse range of industry from all parts of the region.

GOVA State Legislative News

The 2024 General Assembly has been unexpectedly unkind to economic development and GOVA.  Fortunately, Delegate Austin’s House Bill 237 passed the House unanimously and has now been referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor. This bill would implement recommendations made by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission after a year-long study of the GOVA program. One of these recommendations reduces the current 1:1 match requirement for applicants to 2:1 which would allow GOVA grants funds to be more quickly deployed across the Commonwealth.

In addition, we are still hoping the new biannual budget will include a restoration of the Governor’s $28 million reversion. The budget is typically the last thing to be finalized during session and Region 8 strongly supports this amendment.

We were able to speak with some of our new legislators, Delegate Delores Oates and Senator Timmy French, prior to session to highlight Region 8 successes, and to voice our concerns about the upcoming session. Administrative Coordinator Joel Hensley was in Richmond earlier this month speaking to more of our Shenandoah Valley delegation in hopes of gaining support for Delegate Austin’s bill and budget amendment. We are thankful for our state representatives who have been supportive of our program thus far.

January 23rd Council Meeting

Last month we had our first quarterly council meeting. We welcomed new council members – Randy Doyle representing the Shenandoah Valley Workforce Development Board, Bruce Simms with Virginia Regional Transit, and Mike Stolarz with UTS Systems in Rockbridge County. We also elected new leadership for the year including Mark Merrill as our new Chair, and Yolanda Shields as our new Vice-Chair.

The council voted to approve a grant for a feasibility study at the Blue Mountain site in Augusta County. The outcome and results of this study could lead to a potential Regional Industrial Financing Authority (RIFA) which would serve to benefit the surrounding counties and regional as a whole. This is the 23rd grant Region 8 has funded since 2017 for a cumulative total of $7 million invested.

Thank you for your continued support of Region 8’s efforts to bring more economic development and a diverse economy to the Shenandoah Valley. If I can be of assistance or if you have any questions about our organization, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Deborah K. Flippo

Executive Director