$200,000 available for collaborative development efforts

Published 9:42 am Wednesday, June 15, 2011

RICHMOND—When it comes to economic development, state officials believe it’s better to work together.

Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development officials will award money for economic development to localities or regions that team up and come up with the best economic development proposal, said Chris Thompson, program manager.

The General Assembly has budgeted $200,000 for the Building Collaborative Communities program, which will entice localities to use regional assets to attract business.

“You can end up losing out on opportunities when localities go against each other,” Thompson said. “The ultimate aim is to make regions more competitive and focus on regional collaboration.”

Teams have until July 27 to submit proposals to the state, Thompson said. The money will go to the top two or three regions. The department is open to proposals based on several factors including strategic planning, capacity building and organizational building.

Thompson said a match requirement is involved in the funding. He said the state funding requires a 50 percent match in local, private and other funds. Twenty-five percent of the funding must be local.

There is also a requirement that at least one locality participating in each region be considered economically distressed, and Franklin fits into that category, Thompson said.

The state will provide local agencies two chances to attend workshops to learn more about the program.

“We will attend a meeting to learn about the details and determine the eligibility requirements and what potential it may have for our community,” said John Smolak, president of Franklin/Southampton Economic Development Inc.