These are the localities covered by the tobacco commission. Map by Robert Lunsford.

The Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, which covers much of Southwest and Southside Virginia, has approved a new round of grants.

The commission was formed in 1999 with part of Virginia’s share of the master settlement with tobacco companies with a mission to help create a new economy in former tobacco-growing counties. To date, the commission has awarded over 2000 grants totaling more than $1.1 billion. Here are the ones in the latest round:

Southern Virginia Program

Campbell County
Southern Virginia Precision Agriculture & Farm Efficiency Grant – $505,000 Grant
This project will support a cost share program intended to “encourage producers to incorporate new practices that enhance their operation’s inputs and cost savings.” The Virginia Cooperative Extension offices in 19 counties would administer the program and 8-10 producers would be supported per county. The program is targeted to four categories (1) Precision and Improved Agriculture Technology; (2) Produce Equipment & Cold Storage; (3) Produce Handling & Hay Storage Facilities; and (4) Livestock Handling Equipment.

Martinsville-Henry County Chambers Partnership for Economic Growth 
Startup/Grow Martinsville-Henry County Expansion – $103,575 Grant 
The MHC Chamber of Commerce coordinates the Chamber’s Partnership for Economic Growth (CPEG) program in partnership with Patrick Henry Community College and Longwood Small Business Development Center. This project will allow CPEG to serve additional entrepreneurs, provide additional training to entrepreneurs, and to make additional investments in viable business concepts. The focus of this funding will be on incentives for businesses that produce a traded product or service, contributing to the region’s economic base. Examples of targeted sectors include agribusiness, technology, small-scale production, manufacturing, and health care businesses. 

Southwest Virginia Program

Abingdon Feeder Cattle Association
Mechanizing Forage Research In Southwest Virginia – Phase III – $9,000 Grant
This project will support the purchase of a no-till seed drill for use in seeding forage research and demonstration plots. TRRC previously supported the purchase of harvesting equipment required for forage research.

 Floyd County EDA
Floyd County: Adding Much-Needed Meat Processing Capacity – $8,671 Grant
This project will assist with equipment purchases for the establishment of a new, privately owned, meat processing facility in Floyd County. The facility will serve 50 producers by its third year resulting in a $10,000 increase in revenue for the producers. 

Virginia Pumpkin Growers Association
FRESH START: On-Farm Produce Safety Investments from Farm to Market – $507,000 Grant
This project will assist with training and on farm infrastructure for fresh produce growers required to obtain USDA’s Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification. This certification allows producers to verify that the farm’s production and handling practices meet required safety guidelines. GAP certification is necessary to allow producers to sell products through commercial market opportunities. The majority of the grant ($500,000) will be used for producer cost share payments. A small amount ($7,000) is allocated for training materials and supplies as well as for printing and postage costs. Grant funds will reimburse 33% of eligible costs up to a $5,000 limit. This request will support approximately 100 producers.

Lonesome Pine Regional Industrial Facilities Authority
Project Intersection – Building #1 – $500,000 Grant
This project supports infrastructure needs at the Project Intersection industrial site in Norton. The property requires additional site development, as well as construction of a 30,000 SF building, to accommodate the recently announced EarthLink project. These improvements must be completed within a 24 month period in order to accommodate the project. Commission funds will be used for the site development work including paving, curbs and gutters, site signage, lighting, parking bumpers, etc.

 Russell County Industrial Development Authority
Russell Place Project Phase II – $303,500 Grant
This project will support the redevelopment of a property in the Town of Lebanon. Within the last 36 months, 30 new businesses have located in Russell County and the IDA does not have any properties available for new prospects. To accommodate future demand for industrial space the IDA purchased a vacant property consisting of an existing 5,200 square foot building on a 12.6 acre site. These funds will be used for Phase II renovations of the building including demolition of the oldest portion of the building and renovation of the remaining structure.

 Joint IDA of Wythe County
Construction of Wastewater Line for Progress Park Lot 24 – Referred to VRA for a $500,000 loan
This project will assist with necessary infrastructure improvements to serve Lot 24 in Progress Park which is the location of the recent Blue Star NBR and the Blue Star AGI industrial announcements. Required infrastructure improvements to accommodate the Blue Star project total approximately $31.9M. This application focuses on the extension of wastewater service to site via construction of a force main line.

The Barter Foundation, Inc.
Barter Theatre Regional Marketing Campaign – $70,000 Grant
This project will assist Barter Theatre in hiring a public relations firm to develop and implement a two year regional marketing campaign with the Theatre at the center. A strategy will be developed to appeal to urban markets. Barter wishes to increase attendance from beyond a 100 mile radius and believes there is untapped potential to recruit patrons from markets such as DC and Atlanta.