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Regional plan gets positive reactions

The Southern Virginia Go Virginia Region 3 Council (SoVaGO) held a meeting Aug. 29 to provide an update on the Region 3 Growth and Diversification Plan.

SoVaGo includes the counties of Buckingham, Prince Edward, Cumberland, Charlotte and  Lunenburg, along with Patrick, Henry, Pittsylvania, Halifax, Mecklenburg, Brunswick, Nottoway, Amelia and the cities of Martinsville and Danville.

According to the plan’s synopsis on the Southside Planning District Commission (SPDC) website, the document focuses on workforce talent development and recruitment, including opportunities for sector partnerships, career pathways, work-based learning, talent recruitment and broadband infrastructure development; sectoral development in four target sectors, including business services and Information Technology (IT) data centers, advanced manufacturing and materials, high-value natural resource products and health care; and cyber infrastructure, including novel approaches to regional collaboration in infrastructure development and opportunities to provide incentives for “middle mile” and “last mile” network completion.

“We filed our plan with the state,” said Charlie Majors, the chairman of SoVaGo. “It has to be approved by the state and so we filed it last week. They’re reviewing it and the state board will take action on it, I think Sept. 12.”

Majors said SoVaGo has a group of advisory committees and a focus group that have helped with the development of the plan.

He said about 110 people attended two meetings that regarded the plan.

“We announced that after we get approval of the plan in the state, the state board is going to be approving some guidelines for projects and some scoring,” Majors said. “Once we get that, we’ll be accepting applications for projects for potential funding and we are offering people an opportunity to give us a little two-page expression of interest. If they’ve got an idea about a potential plan they can submit it to us and we will talk about … if it will meet criteria that the state requires.”

He said SoVaGo’s plan is what they need to focus on in order to be successful, according to GO Virginia criteria.

“That is looking for bringing in new jobs that are above the average-wage level,” Majors said.

Regarding a response to the plan, he said people at the meetings felt the plan was consistent with what people in the region think they need to be focusing on.

“I think there was a general agreement with it (and) a lot of interest in how we’re going to move forward after now. Of course we’re still looking at that,” Majors said. “… Overall (there was) a very positive reaction.”