Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mayor Dwight Jones Announces Richmond's Eligibility To Pursue Federal EDA Funding

Mayor Dwight C. Jones’ resolution to validate the City Administration’s process for completing a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) was adopted by Richmond City Council during its final session of 2010. The CEDS was completed by the Jones Administration this fall, and included public and private participation and leadership.

CEDS is an analytical document, which considers important economic development assets and opportunities, such as infrastructure, workforce development, target industries, and others. It makes strategic recommendations based on this analysis, and provides a framework and timeline for implementation of those recommendations. While the CEDS is an important tool to help the City achieve its economic development goals, it is also a prerequisite for access to many of the funding opportunities available through the EDA. Richmond's approved CEDS strategy has now been submitted to the Economic Development Administration (EDA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Despite receiving federal grants totaling $105,000 from 2005-2007 to undertake a CEDS, previous city administrations did not complete this task in the time originally allotted by the federal government. Recognizing that Richmond’s lack of an approved CEDS blocked Richmond local government and businesses from pursuing federal EDA funding for projects located in the city, in 2009, Mayor Jones reached out to U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, and as a result, the Commerce Department granted the city an extension. This extension enabled the Jones Administration to complete in less than one year what had not been completed in the nearly five prior years.

“This is yet another example of why I created a consolidated Department of Economic and Community Development,” said Mayor Jones. “Under the leadership of DCAO Peter Chapman, and through the guidance and support of CAO Byron Marshall, the agency has established itself as a leading force in the city in helping to attract, retain and grow businesses, and in facilitating revitalization of under-invested neighborhoods. ECD has also helped restore Richmond’s credibility among key regional, state and federal economic development stakeholders such as the EDA. We are truly excited that another important avenue of funding will be opened up to Richmond as a result of completing this strategy.”

The Deputy Chief Administrative Officer and Interim Director of the Department of Economic & Community Development (ECD), Peter H. Chapman, and senior ECD staff oversaw the CEDS development process. The City also engaged the private consulting firm, TIP Strategies Inc. LLC, to facilitate this process and produce the final CEDS document. This work was funded through an EDA planning grant matched by resources from the City’s general fund. The City of Richmond CEDS highlights the following critical development concepts as ones that align well with EDA’s funding priorities:

  • Redeveloping Armstrong High School into a state-of-the-art skills development and education center. As envisioned, the project would be a regional endeavor that seeks to engage and support the activities of institutions such as J. Sargeant Reynolds, Bon Secours Richmond Health System, Medical College of Virginia, as well as other entities in the realm of healthcare and education—industries that drive the Richmond economy. This project concept also meshes well with the City’s keen focus on revitalizing the Nine Mile Road/25th Street corridor.
  • Working with the leadership of the Virginia Biotechnology Research Park to establish a technology commercialization center. The proposed concept, Virginia Life Sciences Commercialization Center (VLSCC), would foster new business formation and job creation through provision of wet and dry lab facilities and light assembly space, and support services such as marketing, licensing and export controls. The report also underscores the opportunity for the city to pursue EDA funding to establish a revolving loan fund to nurture small- and medium-sized companies in the life sciences realm.
  • Assembling up to 200 acres of land for new technology, light industrial and commercial uses. Not only would this help spur job creation and revitalization in areas of south Richmond, particularly in the Jefferson Davis Highway corridor, but it would also expand the City’s presently limited inventory of land that can accommodate the space needs of certain employers.
“The City Council adoption of the CEDS is an excellent blueprint to guide the city’s vision for capital investment and job creation. This strategy allows city staff and administration to focus and promote their many positive assets such as life sciences, while identifying areas they need to continue to work on,” said Greg Wingfield, President of the Greater Richmond Partnership. “The Greater Richmond Partnership is excited that one of its local partners has committed the time and resources to its economic development efforts and we look forward to supporting their suggested attraction strategies and actions noted in the adopted document.”

To obtain a copy of the CEDS, please call (804) 646-5633, or visit the ECD website at http://www.richmondgov.com/.