The GO Virginia Region 9 Council met Monday at the University of Virginia Research Park to discuss the council’s makeup, purpose and governing documents.
Sitting on the panel are supervisors from Nelson, Culpeper, Orange and Louisa counties and the administrators of Nelson and Orange. Neither Charlottesville nor Albemarle County has a government representative on the panel.
The group also includes President Frank Friedman of Piedmont Virginia Community College, and University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan.
“In a nutshell, our goal was to create a council diverse in all ways, with a focus on geographic inclusion and a broad sector base,” said Brian Cole executive site lead for LexisNexis in Charlottesville and acting council chairman. “I am not sure if it is luck or relentless adherence to the dogma that a rising tide lifts all boats … but we have been working without politics or ego.”
Region 9 Council has until Friday to submit a letter of intent to join GO Virginia. Helen Cauthen, president of the Central Virginia Partnership for Economic Development, and her staff prepared and will submit the letter.
Members cast informal votes to approve a set of bylaws and an acting chair and vice chair, but cannot formally adopt bylaws or officers until the GO Virginia state board formally certifies the council at its March 14 meeting.
The bylaws were adapted from a set provided by GO Virginia, said attorney David Pettit of law firm Lenhart Pettit, who prepared the documents.
“These came largely from the GO Virginia recommended bylaws, but we made some changes that we thought dovetailed nicely with the region,” he said.
The Region 9 Council will lead Central Virginia’s efforts to obtain grants through GO Virginia, a program initiated by Gov. Terry McAuliffe to incentivize localities and the private sector to collaborate on economic development projects.
GO Virginia will provide grants from a newly created state fund for business development and retention, education and government reform projects with at least two participating localities.
GO Virginia divides the state into 11 regions, each with a governing council in charge of organizing and prioritizing grant applications from its members.
Virginia did not bounce back from the recession as quickly as some states, due in part to reliance on federal jobs, said Bill Shelton, director of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.
“It is not hard to understand that what happened in Virginia coming out of the recession is that we did not grow back the way that some other places did,” he said. “We are not in the top 10; we are down in the middle of the pack in terms of growth of the state economy.”
Focusing on developing each region without pitting them against each other will build the overall state economy, Shelton said.
“The mission is, basically, through a proven track record of incentives, grow the number of those high-wage jobs,” he said. “We know that as we do that, we will increase the impact for the overall state economy.”
GO Virginia grants will be aimed at credentialing and training programs, site development and cross-regional bioscience collaborations, among other things, Shelton said. The program will not fund incentives for individual private companies or economic development marketing.
After the regional councils are certified in March, each body will develop its own economic growth and diversification plan. The state body is expected to begin hearing grant proposals later this year, Cauthen said.
GO Virginia is not affiliated with the city of Charlottesville’s Growing Opportunities training programs, which currently focus on bus drivers and utility maintenance workers.