Commonwealth Regional Council becomes economic district
Published 4:18 pm Wednesday, February 8, 2023
FARMVILLE – A project two years in the making came to fruition this month. The Commonwealth Regional Council (CRC) is now officially an economic development district (EDD).
The whole point of a development district is to create a regional entity to lead economic planning. And the CRC is that group for Amelia, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Lunenburg, Nottoway and Prince Edward counties.
Now yes, the group already helped each of the counties with grant writing, emergency planning, economic and community development. The difference is now they’re recognized on a federal level.
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“The difference is now you are a federally designated district,” said Melody Foster. She serves as executive director for the CRC. “Now the region is recognized. That opens us up to more opportunities. We can receive federal planning funds now, for example. There will also be staff support paid through this designation. Before, that funding would have to come from local resources.”
Basically, that funding section means instead of counties footing the bill for planning, some of that could start coming from the federal government.
Now to make it this far, it’s not as simple as apply and get accepted. First, the group has to put together a comprehensive economic development plan for the counties it represents. Think of this as a blueprint. It doesn’t have to be followed 100%, but it shows federal officials what the goal is for the region. The CRC’s proposal was submitted to the federal government in 2020 and they received word this year it had been approved.
“Economic Development Districts promote collaboration among the public, private and non-profit sectors for regional economic development,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “Through this designation, the Commonwealth Regional Council will establish a roadmap for economic resilience, which will support business growth and job creation in southern Virginia.”
And that’s exactly the plan. The CRC and member counties can take that development plan and use it to apply for federal grants, taking more funding stress away from the region.