Alliance aims to promote economic development, job creation
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
News & Advance
Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling announced Wednesday the formation of the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance that combines six localities to promote regional economic development and job creation.
He also presented a state check of $200,000 for the alliance while on a stop in Danville. This was matched by Virginia Tobacco Commission and participating localities - the cities of Danville and Martinsville, and the counties of Halifax, Henry, Patrick and Pittsylvania - for a combined $600,000 going to the effort.
Elected officials of the six localities, the Tobacco Commission and other economic developing organizers in the area joined Bolling at a news conference at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research. Bolling and Gov. Bob McDonnell made a campaign promise to visit Southside Virginia every month and have kept that promise so far.
The alliance is designed to combine the six localities into one region marketed for new businesses and economic development. Bolling referred to the alliance as the "most aggressive economic plan in our state's history."
"Every region has been hit, some regions were hit disproportionately hard - like right here," said Bolling. "Here and other parts of rural Virginia need some extra help. People working together produce more economic success than individually."
Last year, Bolling and the governor challenged the six communities to get together for such an alliance. Local legislators and economic developers "enthusiastically" embraced the idea that Bolling said "puts the competition aside" for greater gains in the long run.
Sen. Frank Ruff, R-Mecklenburg, and vice president of the Tobacco Commission said he was glad to be a part of the effort.
"We have to understand (people) don't care if it is across the state line or the county line. People want to take care of their families," said Ruff. "This is an opportunity to bring pieces together. To stop working against each other."
Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce President Laurie Moran was pleased to hear about the alliance. More than two years ago, Moran was part of a collaborative effort to include chambers of commerce, foundations and other business partners to focus on work force development.
"This is a perfect compliment to what we've been doing," said Moran. "It will allow us to develop it further. When we aren't in competition, it benefits the region."
She also pointed out this could help existing businesses in that they may need vendors or operations that they weren't aware were in the area before, which would keep more money locally.
According to Mark Heath, the president of the Martinsville Henry County Economic Development Corporation, the alliance's first priority is hiring an executive director and has narrowed the field down to five people.
The director will be in Southside Virginia full-time and will be required to live in the region. They will also decide what to do with the $600,000 that has been secured.
For additional information contact Ibbie Hedrick at 804-225-2487 or email@example.com.