The GO Virginia Region One Council unanimously approved the region’s Growth and Diversification Plan at its Sept. 7 meeting in Wytheville.

The plan targets industry sectors which yield higher-paying jobs. These include Advanced Manufacturing, Agriculture/Food Manufacturing, Information and Emerging Technology and Energy/Minerals.

GO Virginia Region One covers a geographic section of Southwest Virginia that spans three planning districts, 13 counties and three cities in the westernmost tip of the Commonwealth. The 21-member council, consisting of business, community, education, non-profit and economic development representatives, led the development of the diversification plan in order to address the challenges and capitalize on the opportunities which exist for the region.

The Region One Council took a unique approach to the development of the plan because it was developed by people who live and work in the region who know the strengths, challenges and opportunities Southwest Virginia presents. The process involved engaging the community through conversation and online surveys, as well as gaining an outside perspective just to ensure no opportunities were overlooked. Chmura Economics and Analytics, an economic and workforce consulting firm, provided the analysis of the region’s industry base, economic climate and workforce skills gap analysis while The University of Virginia’s College at Wise, the support organization for GO VA Region 1 coordinated the community engagement effort and crafted the strategies approved by the regional council.

“The College is excited about the opportunities which lie ahead for the region and we are committed to fully implementing the Growth and Diversification Plan,” said UVa-Wise Chancellor Donna Henry and member of the Go Virginia Regional Council.

The plan represents an accurate assessment of the current position of the region and outlines realistic strategies for moving the region forward. One of the themes heard through the development of the plan and the key strengths identified by all is the collaboration that exists throughout the Region One footprint. GO VA and the Growth and Diversification Plan will only strengthen the regional collaboration, building upon the partnerships formed as a result of the two SWVA Economic Forums held in previous years.

Immediate steps for the Council include the dissemination of the plan and designing the proposal solicitation process required to begin funding projects.

“I have been pleased with the quality of the projects that I’ve heard people describe throughout the region,” Mike Quillen. Chair of the regional council said. “GO Virginia can’t solve all of the region’s challenges, but we can certainly help coordinate and focus resources and attention in the areas that will help create higher paying positions. The critical benefit we are already experiencing is enhanced communication among all the stakeholders in the Region and expanding on existing relationships across the vast area of Region One to work together and with partners in many disciplines and areas to address our issues and seek solutions and opportunities.”

The full plan may be found at http://www.dhcd.virginia.gov/images/GoVA/Region%201%20G&D%20Plan.pdf

For more information regarding GO Virginia or the Region One Growth and Diversification Plan, please contact Shannon R. Blevins at sblevins@uvawise.edu or by calling 276-328-0156.