Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission funds 11 projects to economically boost former tobacco-growing communities

On May 18, 2023, the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission met in Abingdon, Virginia.

The mission of the commission is to create economic revitalization is rural areas formerly dependent on growing tobacco, using funds from the national tobacco settlement.

The Commission approved 11 funding requests for education programs that will support workforce redevelopment efforts across Southern and Southwest Virginia.

Tobacco Commission Chairman, Senator Frank Ruff said, “As always, I am proud of the work the Commission has done here in Abingdon. The Commission has been a supporter of education, and in particular our community college system, for its entire existence. That support has continued here with the approval of a number of grant awards that will ensure students in Southern and Southwest Virginia have access to top quality programs. A well educated workforce, with the skills and credentials employers are looking for, is critical to the Commission’s job creation efforts. The Commission’s investment in education is an investment in the future of our region. By ensuring that our students have access to the education and training they need, we are creating a more skilled workforce that is better prepared to compete in the global economy.

With its 2021-2022 Workforce Financial Aid awards the Commission supported programs that helped 1,268 students gain valuable education and credentials in high demand fields. The awards approved at this meeting are a continuation of the Commission’s long-term support of these programs. The Commission also approved extensions and modifications for a variety of projects and adopted a new budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Commissioners toured the historic Barter Theatre and the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center’s Virtual Cadaver Lab.

The Commission has been a long-time supporter of both the Barter Theatre and the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center.

Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade and Tobacco Commission Acting Executive Director, James E. Campos added, “Education is critical to growing a successful economy and the programs the Commission will support through the grants approved here in Abingdon will provide opportunities for hundreds of students. In my short time with the Commission so far I have talked to many of our partners and stakeholders, visited a number of Commission funded projects and learned more about the impact the Commission has had on Southern and Southwest Virginia over the last 20 plus years. I couldn’t be more excited for what the future holds for the Commission and, more importantly, the role the Commission can play in being a catalyst for growth in Southern and Southwest Virginia.”

Campos continued, “One way in which I believe the Commission can increase its role is by expanding and further developing a sustainable energy economy in Southern and Southwest Virginia. My last post was at the U.S. Department of Energy, so I have seen firsthand what well planned energy development has the potential to add to the TRRC region, including jobs, economic growth and increased power supply to meet the needs of employers and citizens alike. Deploying Governor Youngkin’s all-of-the-above energy plan in our footprint will create sustainable economic growth, help rebuild our infrastructure and create lasting results for Southern and Southwest Virginia for decades to come.

These projects were approved for funding by the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission:

#4143, Brightpoint Community College Foundation
2023-24 Tobacco Region Scholarship at Brightpoint Community College -$77,020 Grant

This grant will support dual enrollment tuition assistance for programs in Industrial Electricity (CSC), Basic Precision Machining (CSC) and Welding (CSC).

#4138, Central Virginia Community College Educational Foundation
CVCC Workforce Financial Aid 2023-2024 – $240,000 Grant

This grant will support dual enrollment tuition assistance for programs in Computer and Electronic Technology/Fundamentals (CSC), Cyber Security /Fundaments (CSC), Electrical Technology Fundaments/Plus (CSC), HVAC/Fundaments (CSC), Industrial Maintenance Electrician/Mechanical/Fundaments (CSC), Information Systems Fundamentals/Plus (CSC), Machine Technology /Fundamentals (CSC), Mechatronics /Fundamentals/Plus and Welding /Fundamentals (CSC).

#4141, Danville Community College Educational Foundation
DCC Educational Foundation Workforce Financial Aid 2023-2024 – $240,000 Grant

This grant will support STEM-H and Advanced Manufacturing programs as well as workforce credential programs.

#4137, Patrick & Henry Community College Foundation
P&HCC 2023-24 Workforce Financial Aid – $240,000 Grant

This grant will support dual enrollment programs in Precision Machining (CSC), Welding (CSC) and Mechatronics (CSC) as well as a General Studies Specialization in Teacher Education Preparation (AA&S).

#4145, Southside Virginia Community College Foundation
Investing in Southside Students – $240,000 Grant

This grant will support dual enrollment programs in Welding, Information Technology, HVAC, Electricity and Precision Machining as well as Administration of Justice (AAS) and Criminal Justice (CSC).

#4136, Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation
Workforce Financial Aid and Community College Access Program for Franklin County – $100,000 Grant

This grant will support programs in Culinary Arts (AAS) and Management (AAS).

#4140, Mountain Empire Community College
MECCWorks – $240,000 Grant

This grant will support programs in: Police & Corrections Science Career Pathways: Law Enforcement Management and Supervision (CSC), Administration of Justice (Certificate), Corrections Management and Supervision (CSC), Police Science (AAS), Corrections Science (AAS)

Education Career Pathways: Early Childhood Development – Early Childhood (CSC), Early Childhood Development – Infant & Toddler (CSC) and Pre-Teacher Education (AAS)

#4146, New River Community College Educational Foundation
Floyd County ACCE (Access to Community College Education) Program – $100,000 Grant

This grant will support programs in: Law Enforcement Career Pathway: Forensic Science (AAS), Police Science (AAS), Criminal Justice (CSC) and Business Management/ Administration (AAS, CSC, Certificate)

#4139, Southwest Virginia Community College
2023-2024 SWCC WFA Tobacco Scholars/tip Program – $240,000 Grant

This grant will support programs in STEM-H and Advanced Manufacturing as well as workforce credentials.

#4142, Virginia Highlands Community College Educational Foundation
Virginia Highlands Community College – Workforce Financial Aid FY24 – $240,000 Grant

This grant will support programs in: Administration of Justice (CSC, AAS)

Law Enforcement Career Pathway: Education (AA&S) and Educational Specialization in Teacher Prep (AA&S)

#4144, Wytheville Community College
Wytheville Community College Forging Futures Scholarship Program – $240,000 Grant

This grant will support programs in: Education (AA&S)

Law Enforcement Career Pathway: Administration of Justice (CSC, AAS) and Corrections Science (CSC, AAS)

The Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission is a 28-member body created by the 1999 General Assembly. Its mission is the promotion of economic growth and development in tobacco-dependent communities, using proceeds of the national tobacco settlement. To date, the Commission has awarded over 2000 grants totaling more than $1.1 billion across the tobacco region of the Commonwealth, and has provided $309 million in indemnification payments to tobacco growers and quota holders.

Photos courtesy of Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission.

See Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission website.

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