‘AN EXCITING DAY’ Governor celebrates large-scale hemp processing facility in South Boston — the first one of its kind in the state — starting operations

gpl1A large-scale hemp processing and cannabinoid (CBD) oil extraction facility, Golden Piedmont Labs, has begun production in Halifax County, playing a key role in Virginia’s No. 1 industry: agriculture. The processing plant is the first of its kind in Virginia.

“This is an exciting day for Halifax County and an exciting day for Virginia,” said Gov. Ralph Northam as he looked out on the crowd of investors, stakeholders, state, county and local leaders gathered at Golden Piedmont Labs’ grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday morning. The facility is housed in the former Blue Ridge Beverage Company building, at 2525 Houghton Ave. in South Boston.

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$70M Rebuild VA grant fund expands

Gov. Ralph Northam announced last week that Rebuild VA, the $70 million economic recovery fund launched in August, is expanding its eligibility criteria to allow more small businesses to apply.

Businesses that received funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and supply chain partners of businesses whose normal operations were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic are now eligible to receive grants of up to $10,000.

Businesses that have received federal funds must certify that they will only use the Rebuild VA grant for recurring expenses and that the grant will not be used to cover the same expenses as the other CARES Act funds.

Rebuild VA, which is administered by the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity, successfully launched on Aug. 10. SBSD and its program partners, the Department of Housing and Community Development, the Virginia Tourism Corporation, and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, made the decision to expand eligibility criteria after analysis of eligible and ineligible applications received within the first 30 days of the launch.

“When we initially launched Rebuild VA, we focused on reaching the small businesses and nonprofit organizations most in need,” Northam said. “I am deeply grateful for the work of our state agencies to swiftly adjust the parameters of this program so we can assist more Virginia businesses as they weather this health crisis and build back stronger.”

Eligible businesses and nonprofits must demonstrate that their normal operations were limited by Governor Northam’s Executive Orders 53 or 55, or that they were directly impacted by the closure of such businesses.

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Partners launch job skill training efforts

gener8tor, SOVA Innovation Hub and Microsoft recently announced an effort to launch gener8tor Upskilling, a free training program to help Southern Virginia residents get critical digital skills for in-demand jobs. The program will kick off its first, virtual class on Oct. 19.

gener8tor Upskilling Southern Virginia will be open to all Southern Virginia residents seeking to develop new skills or enhance existing skills in Customer Service or Sales.

This five-week, cohort-based program will include

w Self-paced virtual curriculum from Microsoft and LinkedIn to learn skills for in-demand customer service or sales roles, and earn certifications and badges;

w One-on-one concierge support from the gener8tor team on the skills content, plus coaching on interview skills and resume, LinkedIn profile and cover letter writing;

w Virtual access to a network of peers who can support each other and form a community; and

w Opportunities to interview with companies ready to hire candidates with these skills.

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Southside Virginia Community College named ‘2020 Great College to Work For’

Southside Virginia Community College is one of the best colleges in the nation to work for, according to a new survey by The Great Colleges to Work For program.

The results, released recently in a special insert of The Chronicle of Higher Education, are based on a survey of 221 colleges and universities. In all, 79 of the 221 institutions achieved “Great College to Work For” recognition for specific best practices and policies. Results are reported for small, medium and large institutions, with SVCC included among the medium colleges and universities with 3,000 to 9,999 students.

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$500,000 flows to help Halifax County businesses impacted by COVID-19

The town of South Boston is now under contract with the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to administer the Halifax County Small Business Recovery Assistance Fund (SBRAF).

The town has been awarded $500,000 to help eligible businesses in Halifax County meet their long-term business goals by adjusting to COVID-19 demands.

This $500,000 grant is part of $8.4 million Community Development Block Grants announced Monday by Governor Ralph Northam.

The maximum benefit to any individual business is $10,000. This program will be operated on a reimbursement basis only.

Eligible expenses for the grant include retooling and technology activities and rent and mortgage.

The fund guidelines defines retooling and technology activities as space and technology upgrades that were completed to reopen the business and conduct business safely including purchases of furniture, barriers and technology such as laptops, software and touch-free credit card payment systems to accommodate social distancing.

Sanitization and job training, classes and/or technical assistance also are considered retooling and technology activities.

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Destination Downtown South Boston receives 2020 National Main Street Accreditation

ddsdDestination Downtown South Boston (DDSB) has been designated as a 2020 Accredited Main Street America program.

Accredited status is Main Street America’s top tier of recognition and signifies a demonstrated commitment to comprehensive commercial district revitalization and proven track record of successfully applying the Main Street Approach.

Patrice Frey, president & CEO of the National Main Center, said, “Accredited Main Street programs have proven to be powerful engines for revitalization by sparking impressive economic returns and preserving the character of their communities. During these challenging times, these Main Street programs will be key to bringing economic vitality back to commercial districts and improving quality of life during the recovery process.”

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Destination Downtown receives grant for COVID-19 small business recovery

Small businesses in downtown South Boston will get a boost to help them recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to $25,000 in grant funding recently awarded to Destination Downtown South Boston.

Gov. Ralph Northam’s office on Tuesday afternoon announced the award of $278,000 in Virginia Main Street Downtown Investment Grants to 18 communities throughout the Commonwealth, including South Boston.

Tamyra Vest, executive director of Destination Downtown South Boston explained that the grant funding would provide “vital economic support to our small businesses to help them overcome the temporary loss of revenue they have experienced.”

“The small businesses in downtown South Boston are vital economic engines in our community who have been severely impacted by COVID-19,” Vest said. “Destination Downtown South Boston wants to assist our small businesses with training and help them navigate through a recovery plan.”

Vest added funding would be available to downtown businesses attending training sessions and meetings.

The Department of Housing and Community Development administers Virginia Main Street grants, which can be used toward “implementing innovative strategies, plans and programs, capacity building, or design projects that help stimulate increased private investment,” according to a news release on Northam’s announcement of the grants.

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Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative leader tapped to represent Va. on national board

jlJohn C. Lee Jr., president and CEO of Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative in Chase City, and EMPOWER Broadband Inc. in Bracey, has been chosen by his peers to represent Virginia on the board of directors of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

Lee was elected by representatives from each electric cooperative in the commonwealth to serve as the Virginia Director on the NRECA board at the July meeting of the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives. He replaces Greg White, who recently retired from the NRECA Board and as president and CEO of Northern Neck Electric Cooperative in Warsaw.

NRECA is the Arlington-based trade association that represents the interests of more than 900 cooperatives and 42 million members across the country, as well as public power districts, and public utility districts. The board is composed of one representative from each of the 48 states served by electric cooperatives.

“I am honored that my colleagues here in the commonwealth trust in me to represent their best interests on the NRECA Board, and to champion matters that bring value to the distribution cooperatives and/or ODEC, and take a strong stand on issues that don’t,” Lee said. “I will do my utmost to validate their support by ensuring that our national organization does the right thing by those we serve, and dutifully represents our membership during these very challenging times in the electricity and technology arenas.

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