On July 20, 2020, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) awarded a $300,000 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Recovery Assistance grant to Virginia Tech’s Office of Economic Development (OED). The grant money will be used for activities that will help regions respond to the detrimental economic effects of the coronavirus crisis.

Virginia Tech’s Office of Economic Development is a long-time EDA University Center partner. Currently, OED implements the Virginia Regional Competitiveness Project (VRCP) through an EDA University Center grant.

The VRCP focuses on three distressed regions in Virginia, including southwest Virginia, southern Virginia, and Hampton Roads, with the goal of enhancing connection and diversification in the regions through commercialization, talent development, and entrepreneurial support activities.

The Office of Economic Development will use the CARES Act funding to benefit the surrounding communities by assisting regional entities, planning for regional recovery, conducting applied research, and offering educational or training events.  

Scott Tate, associate director for OED, directs the Virginia Regional Competitiveness Project activities and helped secure the CARES Act funding. “The coronavirus crisis brings challenges and setbacks, but also new opportunities. Our proposed activities will help regions assess changing conditions, develop revised and informed recovery plans where needed, and pursue new projects with the support of university resources and expertise,” Tate said.

Through discussions with regional organization leaders, OED will pinpoint challenges and issues in the regions and identify ways to assist communities moving forward. OED will provide customized assistance to development organizations and help create economic development plans for selected localities and sub-regions, with the goal of helping communities chart a path for economic recovery post-pandemic.

Through the planning projects and outreach activities, OED will also identify applied research or technical assistance needs in support of post-COVID19 economic recovery activities. These projects could include revising a regional approach to industry targeting, refocusing economic strategies around industry retention and expansion, or supporting entrepreneurs who have been adversely affected by the pandemic. The VRCP events may highlight current economic conditions, recovery strategies, ongoing opportunities, and engage university and local knowledge.

For more information, contact Scott Tate at atate1@vt.edu, or 540.315.2062.