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VCU College of Engineering officials John Leonard (left) and Paul Rochelau addressed GO Virginia’s board on Sept. 10.

GO Virginia, a business-led state economic development initiative, has given $1 million in additional grant funding for projects in the Richmond and Petersburg region that can help the area’s economy deal with COVID-19.

GROW Capital Jobs, which administers GO Virginia in Region 4 in 17 counties and cities from the Richmond area to the North Carolina line, is looking for project applications that will lead to high-impact grant proposals to help address the coronavirus crisis.

It specifically is seeking applications that focus on business clusters of workforce development, advanced manufacturing, innovation and entrepreneurship, logistics and life/bio sciences along with site development for economic purposes.

GO Virginia also made it easier to invest in COVID-19-related projects. The requirements of a one-to-one match have been reduced to 50% of the grant request, and no local match is required. Also, approval of certain projects can be handled administratively, which can significantly shorten the application timeline.

The changes are intended to help generate projects that can be implemented quickly to help begin the recovery, said Wilson H. Flohr Jr., the CEO of Region 4 of GROW Capital Jobs.

The GROW Capital Jobs board will discuss its priorities and ideas that it has received for projects at its May 20 meeting.

The GO Virginia statewide board added the grant funding in all of its 21 regional councils at its April 17 meeting.

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GROW Capital Jobs also approved three projects worth $310,000 to support job creation programs in the Richmond and Petersburg region.

The grants are:

  • $100,000 in a grant for enhanced capacity planning to the Virginia Commonwealth University’s College of Engineering to develop a comprehensive strategic plan to support the commercialization of a new pharmaceutical manufacturing technology and develop a pharmaceutical engineering cluster.
  • A $100,000 grant to VCU’s College of Engineering, together with other partners in the Richmond area, to create a comprehensive plan to better align the region’s existing technology educational programs and help expand the tech talent pipeline that the region needs now and in the future.

Activities will include cataloging and mapping the region’s existing digital economy workforce activities; identifying specific opportunities to improve alignment and close gaps; developing proposals for expanded partnerships among industry, the region’s school systems, community colleges and universities; and creating strategies to facilitate innovation across the tech talent pipeline.

The funding will allow VCU to hire a coordinator position and to establish an industry-education advisory group.

  • $110,000 to have high school students employed after graduation or enrolled in a post-secondary education program in logistics or supply chain management.

The Rowanty Technical Center in Prince George County plans to create a two-year global logistics program for high schoolers that includes forklift driver and additional certifications by the U.S. Occupational and Safety Health Administration.

Virginia Wesleyan University, Virginia State University and Richard Bland College will support students’ pathway to associate’s and/or bachelor’s degrees for logistician and logistics analyst jobs.

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