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Valley wins state economic development award

By Sally Voth

The Shenandoah Valley Region took the top prize in a statewide economic development competition.

The Virginia Economic Development Association awarded the Community Economic Development Award for populations above 100,000 to the 21st Century Workforce Transitions project, which came out of the Shenandoah Valley Partnership.

Shenandoah Valley Partnership marketing specialist Joan Hollen credits the creation of an educational and training database for helping to push it to the top. She nominated the project for the VEDA award, according to an SVP news release.

"The database was developed out of feedback that we got from the business and industry community," Hollen said Monday. "It's been a huge collaboration with the education providers."

The database lists what colleges, universities and technical centers provide appropriate training for a vast array of fields.

Many industry leaders had no idea where to turn, and were asking for a central resource, she said. The award will give that database more exposure, she said.

Hollen said Blue Ridge Community College worked with a web designer to develop the database, which was then incorporated into the partnership's website.

"We work with the education and training providers to populate [the] programs," she said. "It's another asset that we have when [an] industry says, 'What's your workforce situation?'"

The awards were given out at VEDA's spring conference in Charlottesville, according to the release.

Shenandoah County joined the Shenandoah Valley Partnership in 2007, according to Brandon Davis, the county's community development director.

He sees great value in the database.

"Whenever we have conversations with CEOs and people who run businesses, they always identify workforce development as an area for improvement, and I think this consolidated database will hopefully solve some of those issues and enhance that area of economic development in the valley," Davis said Monday.

SVP created the Shenandoah Valley Education and Workforce Committee, according to the release, and the committee created the database.

Other members of the partnership include Rockingham, Page, Augusta, Bath, Highland and Rockbridge counties, and Harrisonburg, Buena Vista, Lexington, Staunton and Waynesboro.

Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or svoth@nvdaily.com


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