A. In order to assist the rural communities of the Commonwealth, the Authority may develop a program for reviewing existing economic development programs of rural communities, upon request. The program shall include (i) a review and evaluation of existing industrial sites and infrastructure, including existing streets, water and sewer systems, electricity, natural gas and communications facilities that will provide high-speed or broadband Internet access to rural and underserved areas of the Commonwealth; (ii) an assessment of the existing workforce and the provision of information on state and federal programs such as tax incentives that may be available to local or prospective employers to assist in hiring and training in areas of high unemployment; (iii) assistance in identifying community resources and the type of industries that may benefit from locating in a community with such resources; and (iv) marketing assistance to help rural communities improve their visibility to expanding industries looking for new facilities.
B. The Authority, the Center for Rural Virginia, the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, the Virginia Resources Authority, the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity, the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, the Virginia Employment Commission, the Virginia Tourism Corporation, the Virginia Community College System, institutions of higher education within rural regions of the Commonwealth, and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services shall jointly develop and implement a rural economic development strategic plan that at a minimum addresses: (i) education, including pre-kindergarten, primary, secondary and post-graduate resources, and comprehensive workforce development programs, as they may pertain to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act; (ii) infrastructure, including capital for water and sewer upgrading, waste management, law enforcement, housing, primary and secondary roads, and telecommunications; (iii) traditional industrial development and industry retention programs, including assistance in financing and in workforce training; (iv) recreational and cultural enhancement and related quality of life measures, including parks, civic centers, and theaters; (v) agribusiness incentives to promote the use of new technologies, and the exploration of new market opportunities; and (vi) a revolving loan fund or loan guarantee program to help start or expand entrepreneurial activities, especially small business activities in rural communities.
2001, c. 531, § 2.1-548.29:1; 2005, cc. 737, 797; 2006, c. 251; 2013, c. 482; 2015, cc. 275, 292.