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

Here’s a roundup of news briefs from around Southwest and Southside. Send yours for possible inclusion to news@cardinalnews.org.

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GO Virginia announces 2 awards in Southwest Virginia

Two projects aimed at expanding the regional economy in Southwest Virginia have received funding from the GO Virginia state board.

The Region 2 funding recipients, announced Tuesday, are:

  • Strengthening Entrepreneurs’ Impact, a project of Roanoke-based Verge. Among the project’s focuses are continuing education for companies that have completed the Regional Accelerator and Mentoring Program, capital and funding opportunities for early-stage companies, and greater mentorship development and retention, according to a news release announcing the awards. The board approved $577,800 in state funds for the project, which also has received $288,900 from non-state sources. (Disclosure: Verge is one of our donors, but donors have no say in news decisions; see our policy.)
  • The Region 2 Talent Pathways Initiative Planning Application, a project of the Virginia Tech Center for Economic and Community Engagement. The initiative will focus on two of the region’s industry sectors: life sciences and biotechnology, and transportation manufacturing and autonomy, the news release said. It will develop industry coalitions to advise on workforce needs, identify the skills and training needed for people to fill jobs in the clusters, and support future projects.  The board approved $250,000 in state funds for the project, which also has received $292,529 from non-state sources.

GO Virginia Region 2 consists of 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.

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UVA Wise names executive director for new Institute of Applied Data Analytics

The University of Virginia’s College at Wise has named Gurkan Akalin as executive director of its newly formed Institute of Applied Data Analytics and chair of the Department of Business and Economics.

Akalin will further develop the college’s new data analytics curriculum and institute, and will help build out the new hospitality and tourism program for the business and economics department, according to a news release from the college. He also will lead the implementation of the new online business administration major.

Akalin holds his doctorate in business administration with a focus on management science from the University of Texas at Arlington, a master’s degree in industrial engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology and an undergraduate degree in industrial and systems
engineering from the University of Southern California.

Most recently, he spent 11 years at Eastern Illinois University’s Lumpkin College of Business and Technology where he served as the assistant chair for administration and as an associate professor.

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Craig County farmers market project wins state grant

A project to build a new farmers market in Craig County has received a $50,000 state grant.

The funding is part of the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund Infrastructure Grant program. It is a matching grant.

The AFID program was started in 2021 to foster growth in the state’s agriculture and forestry sectors, which have been among Virginia’s largest economic drivers but had largely been shut out of economic development programs because they’re populated by businesses that are too small to qualify for traditional incentives.

[Read Cardinal’s previous coverage of the AFID program here.]

The application for funding for the New Castle farmers market was a joint effort among Craig County, Craig County Economic Development Authority and the town of New Castle, according to a news release about the grant.

The infrastructure grant component of AFID is designed to help develop community infrastructure in support of local food production and sustainable agriculture. Applications for the next round of grants will be accepted in the spring. More information is at www.vdacs.virginia.gov/agriculture-afid-infrastructure-grants.shtml.

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ARC funding awarded to 2 Southwest Virginia recovery programs

Two Southwest Virginia projects that seek to help residents who are in recovery from substance use disorder have received a total of almost $1 million from the Appalachian Regional Commission.

The awards, announced Tuesday by the offices of U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, are part of ARC’s Investments Supporting Partnerships in Recovery Ecosystems Initiative.

The YWCA of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia received $500,000 to provide access to family resiliency and recovery-to-work supports, according to a news release announcing the funding. That will include workshops on health, entrepreneurship, personal finance, housing, career coaching, parenting and nutrition. 

The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation received $439,669 to expand its Project Amelioration Program, which provides job training, financial education and life skills training for people with substance use disorder in Dickenson, Lee and Wise counties. The program also offers counseling services, social services and employment assistance. 

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South Boston business hub receives $1.3 million federal grant

The SOVA Innovation Hub in South Boston has received a $1.3 million grant from the federal Economic Development Administration.

The grant will help pay for building renovation to create a digital maker space, community space and co-working offices, according to a news release announcing the award.

The EDA award will be matched with $492,389 in local funds.