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Virginia Enterprise Zone

Partnership between state and local government aims to stimulate economic growth and revitalization The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development today announced the five-year renewal of six Virginia Enterprise Zone (VEZ) designations in the counties of Alleghany, Henry, Lunenburg, and Pittsylvania, and the cities of Covington, Danville, and Martinsville, and the towns of Clifton Forge, Kenbridge, and Victoria.  Enterprise Zone designations are based on locality need, which is determined by unemployment rate, area median income, and the percentage of students receiving free or reduced-price lunch, as well as the projected impact of the incentives. The program is a partnership between state and local government that encourages economic development through job creation and private investment. “VEZ helps localities get a leg up when it comes to attracting economic development projects, and I am pleased to see renewals for these six communities,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “As we work on economy recovery from the effects of the pandemic, tools like VEZ that we can use to encourage capital investment and job creation is vitally important.”  The six zones receiving renewals were initially designated in 2000 and would have reached the end of their 20-year designation periods on Dec. 31, 2020. Legislation passed by the General Assembly in 2019 allows zones designated prior to 2005 to request one five-year renewal, effectively increasing the zone designation period from 20 to 25 years.  The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) administers the VEZ program, which supports job creation and private investment by providing state and local incentives, such as the Job Creation Grant (JCG) and the Real Property Investment Grant (RPIG), to qualified businesses and investors in enterprise zones. In 2019 alone, firms receiving program incentives created or retained 3,829 jobs and invested over $281 million in real estate improvements. Recommendations for the six zone renewals were based on the continued need for such zone, the effectiveness of each enterprise zone in creating jobs and providing capital investment incentives, and the locality’s performance of Enterprise Zone responsibilities. Additional information about the VEZ program is available here.  Renewed Virginia Enterprise Zones: Zone 53  Alleghany County, Town of Clifton Forge, City of Covington Zone 54A Henry County Zone 54B  City of Martinsville Zone 55 Lunenburg County, Town of Kenbridge, Town of Victoria Zone 57A  Pittsylvania County Zone 57B City of Danville 


Grants totaling $90,000 will support entrepreneurial training and small business development programs RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced $90,000 in Community Business Launch (CBL) grants for the town of Blackstone and the city of Buena Vista. CBL provides funding to conduct business plan competitions and offer training to entrepreneurs that aligns with local and regional economic development strategies, primarily in Virginia’s downtown commercial districts.  “This public health crisis has underscored the value of programs like CBL that prepare entrepreneurs for the rigors of operating in a fast-changing business environment,” said Governor Northam. “As we respond to the economic devastation this virus has caused and look ahead toward a post-pandemic future, Virginia will continue to use every resource available to support the small businesses that are the heart of our downtown commercial districts and the bedrock of our economy.” Administered through the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), CBL is a place-based entrepreneurial development initiative that helps fill vacant storefronts with community-based expansion or startup ventures. Local CBL programs train entrepreneurs, creatives, and small business owners on business planning practices, culminating with an opportunity for finalists to compete for grant funding and support services from the community to kick-start their new venture.  “CBL supports communities in identifying businesses needed in their downtown districts and supporting those businesses beyond the grand opening,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “By combining training with a business plan competition, we are creating and nurturing strong local entrepreneurial ecosystems that will support current and future small business growth.” Since 2014, $1.53 million in CBL funds have been awarded to 24 communities serving more than 450 participating entrepreneurs across Virginia. In total, CBL has garnered more than $2.25 million in private investment, with over 230 new full-time jobs created and at least 100 jobs retained. Projects were reviewed and evaluated competitively, with an emphasis on those with the capacity to implement a successful campaign, alignment with regional or local strategies and the availability of matching resources. Five new applications for fiscal year 2021 requested a total $223,750 in funding. Grantees from fiscal year 2020 were offered extensions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional information about the CBL initiative can be found at The following projects will be awarded CBL grants: Blackstone Business Launch Downtown Blackstone, Inc. and Town of Blackstone $45,000 The town of Blackstone and Downtown Blackstone, Inc. will host an eight-week business competition to diversify retail businesses and address vacancies created during the pandemic in the downtown district, potentially focusing on food-based businesses. Upon completion, Blackstone will produce or expand four businesses and create at least 10 jobs. Buena Vista Community Business Launch City of Buena Vista $45,000 The city of Buena Vista will host a 10-week business competition focused on its downtown. Buena Vista is currently using a Community Development Block Grant to develop an assessment of local assets and market potential for specific downtown retail businesses. As part of that assessment, the city sees hospitality, small-scale manufacturing, and web-based retail as part of the new business sector in the downtown district. Upon completion, Buena Vista will create or expand three businesses and create at least five jobs.


Funding supports 11 projects that foster innovation, expand workforce development programs, and grow portfolio of business-ready sites RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced two allocations of Growth and Opportunity for Virginia (GO Virginia) grants, totaling more than $6 million. The first allocation will support two statewide projects and six regional projects that grow Virginia’s business-ready sites portfolio, provide additional capacity to expand talent pipelines in key industries, and support the growth of startup businesses engaged in coastal resiliency and life sciences initiatives. The second allocation was awarded to three projects through the Economic Resilience and Recovery Program that was created by the GO Virginia Board in April to quickly deploy resources that will help communities mitigate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding will leverage an additional $6.5 million in local and other non-state resources to assist with ongoing economic diversification and growth efforts throughout the Commonwealth. “These projects leverage the assets of each region and forge innovative partnerships that will help tackle some of our most pressing challenges,” said Governor Northam. “GO Virginia is providing exactly the kind of investment we need to move our economy forward, drive private-sector growth, and continue our progress toward an equitable and sustainable recovery in the months ahead.” “The GO Virginia regional councils are demonstrating that we can approach our economic recovery strategically even amid this incredibly challenging year,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “These awarded projects will help address the wide-ranging impacts of the pandemic while supporting job creation and new investment in high-growth sectors.” “GO Virginia has succeeded in creating a framework for strategic thinking in at the regional level,” said GO Virginia Board Vice Chair Nancy Howell Agee. “The mission of the program is perhaps even more relevant today than it was when we announced our first grant. Growing and diversifying regional economies while creating high quality jobs for Virginians is a goal we share with our partners across the Commonwealth.” Since the program began in 2017, GO Virginia has funded 149 projects and awarded approximately $52.2 million to support regional economic development efforts. The 24-person GO Virginia Board includes members of the Governor’s cabinet, the business community, and the General Assembly. Additional information about the GO Virginia program is available at 2020 ROUND FOUR STATEWIDE GRANT AWARDS Virginia Bio Connect $1,599,653 Region 2: City of Roanoke Region 4 (lead): Counties of Chesterfield, Hanover, Henrico, and Powhatan and the city of Richmond Region 5: City of Virginia Beach Region 7: Counties of Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William  Region 9: Counties of Albemarle, Culpeper, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, Madison, Nelson, and Orange and the city of Charlottesville Virginia Bio Connect aims to create jobs in the bioscience industry by forming four new “BioHubs” to serve existing and emerging life science companies. Virginia Bio Connect will offer programming and collaboration with established partners and help close the talent gap by facilitating job connections, internships, and network opportunities. This initiative will also create a statewide virtual entrepreneur-in-resident network that brings together experts from diverse backgrounds with life science industry expertise to support early-stage life science companies. Launching a Coastal Resilience and Adaptation Economy $2,937,163 Region 5: Counties of Accomack and Northampton, the cities of Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach, and the town of Chincoteague Region 6 (lead): Counties of Essex, Gloucester, King and Queen, King William, Mathews, and Middlesex and the towns of Tappahannock, Urbanna, and West Point The Coastal Resilience and Adaptation Economy initiative will lay the foundation for a long-term, high-paying industry cluster by supporting business plan competitions and accelerator services. The initiative will form an industry/education consortium to engage with the broader business community about the risks and economic impacts of sea level rise and build capacity for adoption of resilient practices. 2020 ROUND FOUR REGIONAL GRANT AWARDS Wildwood Natural Gas Extension $527,600 Region 1: Counties of Carroll and Grayson and the city of Galax The Blue Ridge Crossroads Economic Development Authority will provide natural gas access to the Wildwood Commerce Park to position the site for future industrial development opportunities. Central Virginia Community College Career and Technical Education Academy $266,000 Region 2: Counties of Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford, and Campbell and the city of Lynchburg Central Virginia Community College has partnered with 10 regional high schools and industry stakeholders to develop career pathways training models and launch four new credentialing programs. The Career and Technical Education Academy aims to build a broader pool of job-ready talent in the region and will enable students to pursue well-defined career education that leads to high-paying job opportunities. LaGrange Industrial Park Master Planning and Preliminary Engineering Report $76,992 Region 6: Counties of Essex, King and Queen, and Middlesex and the town of Tappahannock Essex County will work with King and Queen and Middlesex counties, and the town of Tappahannock to improve 29 acres in the LaGrange Industrial Park and increase the site’s marketability. This project will escalate the site from a Tier 2 to at least a Tier 3 in accordance with the Virginia Business Ready Site Program, providing a business-ready site for new firms in the region’s targeted industry sectors and laying the foundational groundwork for the creation of a Regional Industrial Facility Authority. Regional Robotics Innovation Hub $73,000 Region 5: Cities of Hampton, Newport News, and Norfolk The Hampton Roads Alliance will conduct trend, situational, and supply chain analyses to identify best practices and competitive niches to accelerate and interconnect technology innovation. These analyses focus on key Hampton Roads industries including manufacturing, digital shipbuilding and repair, distribution and logistics, water technologies, modeling, and simulation. RVA-757 Connects I-64 Corridor Talent Pipeline: Today and Tomorrow Initiative $90,000 Region 4: Henrico County and the city of Richmond Region 5: Counties of Isle of Wight, James City, and York and the cities of Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Williamsburg RVA-757 Connects will develop a strategy to create jobs for the Hampton Roads and Richmond regional talent pool. This initiative will focus on the region’s priority industry sectors, identify the major trends that will impact the talent pool of tomorrow, and develop a plan of action for the future. Venture Central $300,000 Region 9: Albemarle County and the city of Charlottesville Venture Central will work with firms that have high-growth potential in targeted industry sectors, connecting entrepreneurs and early-stage companies to a network of service providers that will improve the startup and survival rate of firms in the region. Through a partnership with the Charlottesville Chamber of Commerce, Venture Central will help entrepreneurs start and grow new ventures through a physical front door with concierge-style services and a network of support organizations with access to space for meetings, lectures, and events. This initiative will also include targeted programming, such as pitch nights, mentoring, and accelerator activities. ECONOMIC RESILIENCE AND RECOVERY GRANTS Capital Region Small Business Development Center Launch $30,500 Region 4: Counties of Chesterfield, Goochland, and Henrico, the city of Richmond, and the town of Ashland Small Business Development Center (SBDC) business advisors will provide confidential one-on-one business advising and group training to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs. Virginia Community Capital (VCC) is serving as host to the Capital Region SBDC for the Greater Richmond area. Virginia Virtual Maritime Trades Training $100,000 Region 5: Cities of Hampton, Newport News, and Norfolk This project seeks to address the high demand for training in shipbuilding and ship repair by investing in virtual training at Tidewater Community College, Thomas Nelson Community College, Paul D. Camp Community College, and the Apprentice School. The investment will allow for greater social distancing among trainees and minimize touch points on manufacturing equipment and training mockup structures. The simulations will put students in realistic job settings where they can work scenarios replicated in a safe environment without the risk of injury, damage to equipment, loss of materials, or exposure to COVID-19. Regional Business and Professional Connector Platform $76,500 Region 9: Counties of Albemarle, Culpeper, Fauquier, Fluvanna, Madison, Nelson, and Orange and the city of Charlottesville The Connector Platform is a cloud-based interactive mobile application and website platform with a region-wide interactive search and filtering functionality that allows users to find regional business data, resources, and services. It will include a dedicated COVID-19 information and resources page, a central business location for individuals and businesses to connect, a business referral network, a resource map, an education center, an events calendar, a job board, and more.

Upcoming Events

Eviction Moratorium

CDC-issued eviction moratorium has been extended by the recent federal stimulus package, to suspend eviction proceedings through Jan. 31, 2021.

COVID-19 Homeless Assistance and Prevention

Those experiencing homelessness or other housing crisis should contact their local crisis assistance hotline by clicking here to find your local hotline.

Housing Innovations in Energy Efficiency

DHCD's Housing Innovations in Energy Efficiency (HIEE) Program is funded through Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) proceeds. The program will make energy efficiency upgrades to new and existing residential buildings to reduce energy bills for low-income Virginians

Virginia Governor's Housing Conference

Mark your calendar for the virtual 2021 Virginia Governor’s Housing Conference Nov.10-12. Join us for this three-day event packed full of educational sessions led by experts in housing, finance, and community development.

Grant Management Workshop

Mark your calendar to attend the virtual DHCD Grant Management Workshop, Back to Basics: Building a New Foundation, on Jan. 26-28. 

Local Government Exchange Program

The Virginia Local Government Exchange Program will serve as a vehicle to explore and build stronger relationships between community leaders in our vast state. This pilot program is a partnership of the Governor’s Office, Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), Virginia Association of Counties (VACo) and Virginia Municipal League (VML).

Partners for Better Communities Podcast

Each episode features the voices of leaders and change makers across the commonwealth. We will look at the innovation and inspiration at play as local, regional and state leaders work together to create safe, affordable and prosperous communities.

Virginia Disparity Study

Virginia has commissioned BBC Research & Consulting (BBC) to conduct a disparity study to assess whether barriers exist for minority- or woman-owned businesses that make it more difficult for them to compete for commonwealth contracts.

Virginia Main Street Blog

Check out the latest happenings in the Main Street and downtown revitalization world through the Virginia Main Street Blog.

2018 Code Development Process

The Virginia Building Codes are updated through the code development process. Virginia is a leader in building and fire code development, and stakeholder input is vital to Virginia’s code development process. Participation is encouraged and remote participation is made possible through cdpVA.

Landlord Tenant Handbook

The Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (VRLTA) handbook has been prepared to provide information on the rights, remedies and responsibilities of landlords and renters concerning the rental process. Before signing a lease, prospective tenants should read and understand the terms of the contract. Consulting a lawyer or the landlord for clarification of the rental agreement is advisable.