A map of GO Virginia regions. Courtesy of GO Virginia.

GO Virginia awards $880,000 to Central, Southwest Virginia projects

The GO Virginia State Board this week approved more than $880,000 in state funding for three new projects across Central and Southwest Virginia.

GO Virginia, a statewide initiative designed to encourage economic growth, on Thursday announced the Region 2 projects, according to a news release. Region 2 covers the cities of Covington, Lynchburg, Radford, Roanoke and Salem and the counties of Alleghany, Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford, Botetourt, Campbell, Craig, Floyd, Franklin, Giles, Montgomery, Pulaski and Roanoke.

Bedford Regional Metal Workforce Retention Center: This project will repurpose a 60,000-square-foot former steel shot foundry in Bedford into a regional workforce development center focused on metal fabrication skills training.

The GO Virginia board approved $99,900 in state funds for the project, which also has $201,000 from non-state funding sources.

The money will be used to develop a master plan strategy for how to connect metalworking businesses that need targeted skills training with educators in metal fabrication skills. The project is designed to further the work of a previous GO Virginia award to Central Virginia Community College to create a regional career and technical education academy.

Career Acceleration Program: This program, led by Lynchburg Beacon of Hope, will work to increase the career capacity of the region by retaining young workers graduating high school.

The GO Virginia board approved $540,000 in state funds for the project, which also has received $585,000 in funding from non-state sources.

Project goals include reconnecting with people who have paused their educations and engaging with two-generation households where parent and children are of working age. The project will also create a career case management system that will allow workers to continuously learn and prepare for new job opportunities.

The project builds on a previous GO Virginia planning grant, which helped Beacon of Hope develop a playbook for implementing Future Centers – resource hubs in schools that assist students with college and career preparation – across Region 2.

LRBA Center of Entrepreneurship: The center is designed to serve as an anchor and catalyst for the greater Lynchburg region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. It is supported by the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance.

The GO Virginia board approved a total of $240,192 in state funds for the project, which is leveraging $199,035 in non-state sources.

As envisioned, the center will foster an environment for entrepreneurs to raise capital, access resources and develop the support system needed to take their products into the marketplace. The project will increase the available support space for targeted startups by 5,000 square feet and access to capital by up to $400,000 and will offer training and business development events.

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2023 Recreational Trails Program grant round opens

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation will hold an open grant round for $1.4 million in Recreational Trails Program grants from March 16 through May 9.

Projects for new trail construction are not eligible, but maintenance, repair and amenity projects for existing land and water trails will be considered, according to a news release from the department.

The Recreational Trails Program was established by the federal government to construct and rehabilitate trails and trail-related facilities. It is expected that projects for new trail construction will become eligible again in 2024, the release said.

The program is an 80%-20% matching reimbursement program. Requests must be for a minimum of $25,000 with a minimum total project cost of $31,250. Grantees must be able to fund 100% of their project while seeking periodic reimbursements.

Eligible applicants include counties, cities and towns; park and recreation authorities; tribal governments; state and federal agencies; and nonprofit organizations with support from a governmental body.

Applications are via email by 4 p.m. May 9.

A virtual informational session and application workshop will be held at 1 p.m. March 22. For more information and to register, visit dcr.virginia.gov/recreational-planning/trailfnd. An updated program manual and application materials will be posted by March 16.

For more information, email recreationgrants@dcr.virginia.gov

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Outdoor sculpture installed along Blue Ridge Parkway near Fancy Gap

An outdoor sculpture by a Floyd County artist has been placed along the Blue Ridge Parkway through a partnership with the Carroll County Creative Arts Center.

“Hope Is …” by Floyd County artist Charlie Brouwer. Photo courtesy of the Carroll County Creative Arts Center.

“Hope Is…”, an 8-foot wooden statue by Charlie Brouwer, is situated just south of Fancy Gap between mileposts 202 and 203 at Fancy Gap Cabins and Campground.

“Hope Is…” is one of 20 planned outdoor sculptures Brouwer is placing throughout Southwest Virginia in public spaces this spring, according to a news release. A partnership between Brouwer and the Carroll County Creative Arts Center led to the loan of the piece for a year. Brouwer is internationally recognized for his small gallery pieces and large outdoor installations.

Constructed entirely of locust wood, the statue depicts a man standing with one foot on the bottom rung of a ladder. Brouwer incorporates ladders in many of his works. He views ladders as “positive symbols of rescue and repair and how we advance.” According to Brouwer, the man in the piece is just “beginning to take on the risk and the hope we feel when we climb a ladder.”

The sculpture is visible from the parkway, and visitors are welcome to pull in and park by the office of the cabins for a closer look. They can also view one of the longest and most colorful official Virginia LOVE signs, which includes a butterfly mural. Both the sign and mural were completed in partnership with Diane Steele, a Carroll County artist.

The Carroll County Creative Arts Center is planning a reception for later in the spring to celebrate the placement of the sculpture and local art in Carroll County.

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