Grants to Support Entrepreneurial Ecosystems and Workforce Development 

Grants to Support Entrepreneurial Ecosystems and Workforce Development  4RICHMOND, VA – Governor Glenn Youngkin today announced more than $1,261,859 in Growth and Opportunity for Virginia (GO Virginia) grant awards for eight projects focused on creating critical talent pipelines to support regional economic growth, strengthen workforce development and support collaborative programs between localities, public entities and private businesses.

“GO Virginia is fostering a regional collaboration among businesses, education and government leaders while supporting innovative approaches to jumpstart our workforce and economic development,” said Governor Youngkin. “These projects will equip Virginians with the tools they need to thrive while strengthening workforce training and talent development opportunities across the Commonwealth.”

“GO Virginia has proven critical for building Virginia’s economic development strategies and fostering innovation and collaboration,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick. “We are creating a stronger portfolio of entrepreneurial ecosystems while offering Virginians with the workforce development opportunities they need to diversify unique regional economies throughout the Commonwealth.”

The GO Virginia Board includes key members of the Governor’s cabinet, leadership from the business community and the General Assembly, including Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick and Secretary of Finance Steve Cummings.

“As a new Board member, I am pleased to see the results of the hard work of all of the GO Virginia regional councils and partners today,” said GO Virginia Board Member and Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates Todd Gilbert. “It is exciting to see how these projects plan to deliver the economic impact and growth that these regions are striving for–expanding the pool of job-ready talent to support strategic industry sectors and building a vibrant and supportive environment for high-growth potential startups in the Commonwealth.”

Since the program’s inception in 2017, GO Virginia has funded 215 projects and awarded approximately $82.2 million to support regional economic development efforts. To learn more about the GO Virginia program, visit


Regional Talent Strategy Implementation | $315,910
Region 2: Counties of Botetourt, Franklin and Roanoke, and the cities of Covington, Roanoke and Salem
The Western Virginia Workforce Development Board (WVWDB), in partnership with the Roanoke Regional Partnership (RRP), will implement a regional talent strategy in the Roanoke Valley and Alleghany Highlands focused on talent development, talent attraction and retention. This project will include the creation of a regional web-based talent portal, toolkits for businesses to use for recruitment and an annual retreat for the region’s economic and workforce partners, as well as the development of a talent ambassador volunteer program.

GO TEC Region 1 | $308,924
Region 1: Counties of Carroll, Grayson and Wythe
Carroll County Public Schools, in partnership with Great Opportunities in Technology and Engineering Careers (GO TEC), will pilot GO TEC Career Connections labs at Carroll County Middle School, Grayson County Middle School, and one middle school in Wythe County Public Schools. By offering students specialized training in Region 1 industry priorities, this project will create a talent pipeline yielding measurable results in terms of students being exposed to career pathways within the region, increasing the number of graduates who earn certifications in those pathways and offering new job opportunities upon graduation.

Activation Capital Regional Entrepreneurship Initiative (REI) for Region 4 | $300,000
Region 4: Counties of Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Goochland, Greensville, Hanover, Henrico, Powhatan, Prince George, Surry and Sussex, and the cities of Colonial Heights, Hopewell and Petersburg
Activation Capital will lead an in-depth and region-wide planning process for the Regional Entrepreneurship Initiative (REI). This project will allow the partners to further grow the entrepreneurial ecosystem in alignment with the regional growth and diversification plan while creating sustainable, long-term strategies.

Promoting Careers in Aquaculture | $100,000
Region 6: Counties of Gloucester, Lancaster, Mathews, Middlesex, Northumberland and Westmoreland
Rappahannock Community College (RCC) Educational Foundation will promote jobs in the aquaculture industry cluster through the development of online learning modules, a one-week immersive summer course experience and a four-week summer internship with a local aquaculture business. This project will expand high school students’ understanding of what jobs are available in the sector, expand educational opportunities that fit employer’s needs and support internship opportunities fostering experience and awareness. Additionally, RCC will work with business partners to explore an industry-recognized certificate/credential that would serve as a non-credit option available to RCC students interested in pursuing a career in aquaculture.

VGA Refresh/Restart: A Strategy for Regional Economic Development in Southern Virginia | $100,000
Regions 3 and 4: Counties of Brunswick, Charlotte, Greensville, Lunenburg and Mecklenburg, and the city of Emporia
Virginia’s Growth Alliance (VGA) will lead the development of a strategic reset of goals, priorities, focus and support to better reflect changes in the organization and economic development landscape, realigning the organization into a more effective and sustainable posture. This grant will build and strengthen the capacity of the regional economic development organization through business sector analysis, workforce study, analysis of regional incentives and a fundraising campaign feasibility study.

Internship Expo and Hiring Workshops | $36,000
Region 6: Counties of Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford, and the city of Fredericksburg
The Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with five school divisions, Rappahannock Goodwill Career Works, Germanna Community College, and the University of Mary Washington, will pilot and host an Internship Expo that will connect high school and post-secondary students with employer-sponsored internships in region’s targeted industries. This grant will also include five hiring workshops hosted throughout the year, allowing students to make connections with business leaders and foster talent development in the region.


Mountain Empire Community College Project WELD | $101,025
Region 1: Counties of Scott and Wise, and the city of Norton
Mountain Empire Community College (MECC) will create a welding certification program through a collaboration with the Virginia Department of Corrections Wise Correctional Unit and regional manufacturing and industrial employers to address a demonstrated workforce need for entry-level welders. This project will train incarcerated individuals and link them to available employment opportunities upon release, resolving the unmet need for skilled workers in this industry and providing opportunities to a ready-to-train population willing to work.

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