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Office of Economic Development to use $525,000 grant to bring better jobs to Southwest and Southside Virginia


BLACKSBURG, Va., Oct. 21, 2008 – A $525,000 grant awarded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration will support the efforts of the Virginia Tech Outreach and International Affairs' Office of Economic Development to foster new higher-skill, higher-wage, and private-sector employment and investment in Southwest and Southside Virginia.

The new three-year grant represents a 33 percent increase over previous federal funding to the Office of Economic Development, which works with companies, local governments, and agencies in the Southwest and Southside regions to develop innovative and sustainable industries and entrepreneurial communities.

“Virginia Tech has a 20-year relationship with the U.S. Economic Development Administration,” said John Provo, associate director of the Office of Economic Development. “In an intensely competitive environment, this expanded support represents a strong endorsement of the university’s commitment to regional economic development.”

The office will use the additional 33 percent in federal support to expand services to include additional communities, such as Emporia-Greenville County and Franklin-Southampton County. The office focuses its efforts on Southwest and Southside Virginia, where income and employment levels are often significantly lower than those of other regions and metropolitan areas. Faculty assist with a variety of projects, including strategic planning and evaluation, research commercialization, economic impact studies, and development of manufacturing and business facilities.

Multi-purpose agricultural complexes are at the hub of recent efforts in Wythe County (Southwest Virginia) and Pittsylvania County (Southside Virginia). They will not only be great venues to showcase and market the agricultural heritage and products of each region; they also create substantial economic benefits for the communities. While each project has a different business model, both seek to draw upon the unique assets of their regions.

In the Petersburg/Prince George County area, Virginia Tech is a partner with the University of Virginia and the Virginia Community College System in the creation of two major research centers — the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing and the Center for Aerospace Propulsion Systems. This initiative was critical to the decision by Rolls-Royce Motor Cars to locate a new jet engine facility in the region.

In Southside, additional funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration is being used to support commercialization of technologies. A team formed by the Office of Economic Development is matching research-based innovations from Virginia Tech and the research programs at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville with entrepreneurs, capital, and business assistance programs in Southside.

For more information about the resources offered by the Virginia Tech Office of Economic Development, contact John Provo at (540) 231-5278.