The economic growth and diversification plan, to be developed with the initial Virginia Growth and Opportunity Funds (VGOF), is to be a document that each Regional Council will use to identify economic opportunities, needs, and challenges, establish priorities among those opportunities, and outline needed enhancements where GO Virginia grant funds can (a) support collaborative programs between at least two or more localities that will (b) lead to the creation of more higher paying jobs. Such jobs should be primarily based on sectors and clusters that ultimately generate new revenues from out-of- state sources.
The implementation of these plans should focus on higher paying jobs (above the median wage) for the region that will bring new investment, enhance the competitiveness of the region, and diversify the economy of the region, in turn supporting the growth of the Commonwealth's economy. The plan should encourage innovation and be flexible to incorporate new ideas and opportunities that are identified by the Regional Council over time. Finally, the plans, and ultimately, the projects, should focus on activities that are sustainable and have the ability for long-term growth.
GO Virginia is intended to facilitate regional collaboration to grow and diversify the economy through supporting projects leading to the creation of more, higher paying jobs (primarily based on revenue derived from out-of-state sources) and addressing gaps in workforce and other factors that impact the success of growth and diversification programs at the regional level. Programs and projects recommended by the Regional Councils and approved by the Board shall be consistent with the regional economic growth and diversification plan. The plan should not specifically outline or limit the potential projects that could be later funded by the GO Virginia Board but instead serve as the guide for evaluating which potential projects best address the needs and opportunities identified in the plan.
Once a Regional Council has been certified, the Council will prepare a work plan and budget for the development of the economic growth and diversification plan that will be submitted to the GO Virginia Board, through the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), for approval and funding. The budget must specifically justify how funds are to be spent and the process used by the Regional Council to determine the requested funding amount.
As outlined in the state appropriations act, initial GO Virginia funds may be used to support organizational and capacity building activities. This includes identifying regional economic priorities and building upon baseline economic analysis to inform priority and opportunity identification and to provide a foundation for regional gap analysis of skill levels in the workforce versus the skills most likely needed over time based on expected employment and organizational changes.
It is also expected that some portion of these funds allocated to each region may be used for initial incremental costs associated with the establishment of the Regional Council. GO Virginia funds should not be used to supplant existing funds or other resources already available to assist the Regional Council with the development of the plan, and the Board reserves the right to consider the amount of money allocated to administrative expenses, and the efficiency in minimizing administrative costs, in making its funding allocations to Regional Councils.
Each Regional Council may apply for an initial grant in FY 17, not to exceed $400,000. Additional planning funds may be requested in subsequent fiscal years if appropriated by the General Assembly. Currently, an additional up to $250,000 is available to each region in FY 18. Using the priorities outlined in these guidelines, the Board will determine the amounts to be distributed to each Regional Council. Funds not allocated to Regional Councils in the initial funding round may be reserved for either additional planning and analysis or other capacity building activities that benefit regions at the discretion of the Board.
Although a local match is not required for the grant in the first year to support the development of the regional economic growth and diversification plan, the Board will take into account work plans and budgets that have a local match, or other funds that may or have been available to support the development of the economic growth and diversification plan, in making its final funding allocations, up to the maximum provided for in the state budget, to a Regional Council.
Each Regional Council shall develop and provide, to the Board for approval, a regional economic growth and diversification plan in accordance with these guidelines. Plans should be based on a realistic and empirically derived understanding of the regional economy and its potential. The plan should establish priorities for future use of GO Virginia project grants and take into consideration other studies and analyses related to development and validation of an economic diversification strategy as it relates to the creation of higher paying jobs. In developing the plan, Regional Councils are advised that the projects and programs which could ultimately be funded by the GO Virginia Board need only include two or more localities.
It is not the intent of GO Virginia to duplicate recently completed or ongoing strategic planning efforts, or to serve solely as an implementation model for earlier plans. This is not a regional strategic economic development plan, nor is the plan envisioned to be comprehensive in addressing all challenges that face a particular region, but instead, the plan should focus on priority areas that accomplish GO Virginia's goals. Participation in the process of conducting a critical analysis of regional issues and prioritizing potential actions is essential, so the plan is intended to seek input from impacted stakeholders, focus attention on critical issues of regional economic growth and diversification, and identify and prioritize opportunities that could be pursued. The analysis should challenge existing assumptions about the region's economy and inform the Council on how the region may develop growth opportunities. Efforts should also include identifying whether the appropriate conditions exist for a region to effectively realize the priorities and strategies outlined in the plan.
The Board, and its administrative support, will provide technical assistance and review, upon request, during plan development.
The plan will identify key needs and opportunities and suggest leadership within the Region to:
As previously outlined, the plan is not intended to outline the exact projects that could be funded by GO Virginia project funds; but instead, should serve as the framework to guide future decisions by the Regional Council and the Board in determining which potential projects might address the plan's priorities and other statewide goals established by the Board.
At a minimum, and to assist with establishing baseline data for further evaluation, the plan should include the following elements:
2. Identify significant drivers of the existing economy and growth trends of these drivers3. Identify existing efforts to diversify and grow and/or retain higher paying jobs and to enhance access to such jobs.
4. Identify existing or potential business sectors or clusters which can lead to sustainable, scalable, future growth in the region and the process used to select those sectors or clusters including how growth in them can be achieved. The identification of such sectors or clusters must be based on empirical data and which is based on results that are realistic given the drivers of the region's economy.
For purposes of the plan, a cluster is a group of companies in a business sector with an affiliated supply chain, the relationships between and among industries in a region that support economic growth, workforce training resources, and other related assets.
5. Identify workforce gaps in the availability of immediately employable talent in both the existing significant drivers of the economy as well as the suggested sectors or clusters and prioritized opportunity areas.
6. Commuting patterns (both existing and potential) for the workforce to other regions/states and whether such activity affects the region's ability to attract and or retain high paying jobs.
7. Identify intraregional economic differences and how the plan will address the goals of GO Virginia in a way that benefits all parts of the region. The GO Virginia Board and staff will work with regions that have similar priorities and project ideas to encourage the regions to work together or seek joint opportunities.
8. Potential performance metrics as determined and defied by the Region based upon direction from the Board.
Following a review and summary of this baseline data, the plan should be guided by the following principles:
Each Regional Council will submit an initial report to the Board by July 1, 2017 that will include:
To assist in the completion of the Board's annual report requirement, each Regional Council awarded a grant from the fund will submit an annual report to the Board by October 15. The plan due in 2017 shall focus on progress made since the initial report on identifying projects that could be funded to address the needs and opportunities identified in the regional growth and diversification plan. Subsequent annual reports will include information about the following items:
Each Regional Council will certify to DHCD that it is in compliance with state disbursement requirements. DHCD will review the compliance of each Regional Council with the performance metrics established for individual projects and advise the Board on any actions that are taken to adjust or terminate funding for projects that do not fulfill these metrics.
Prior to submitting the proposed regional economic growth and diversification plan to the GO Virginia Board for review and approval, DHCD will afford an opportunity for appropriate State Agencies to review and comment on the plan. The purpose of this review shall be to ensure sufficient empirical review and basis was used to justify the recommendations in each plan and alignment with overall state goals.
When making decisions about funding for each Regional Council to undertake its own, and the approval of such plan, the Board will evaluate the following:
The following resources may be useful in providing additional direction or data to regional councils in developing their plans: