Governor McAuliffe Announces First Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund Planning Grants of Administration

Governor Terry McAuliffe has announced the awarding of two planning grants from the Governor’s Agriculture & Forestry Industries Development Fund (AFID).  The two projects, one in Essex County and the other a partnership effort between the Town of Purcellville and Loudoun County, have been awarded a total of $34,500 to support the growth of agricultural and forestry projects in the Commonwealth. The AFID planning grant program encourages local governments to promote agriculture and forestry and incorporate the needs of these important industries into their economic development planning efforts.
Speaking about the planning grants being awarded to the localities, Governor McAuliffe said, “Job creation and expanded economic development are the chief priorities of my administration, and I plan to ensure that agriculture and forestry are a major part of our efforts to grow and diversify our economy” said Governor McAuliffe. “Supporting local efforts to strengthen these critical industries is an important component of my economic development strategy, and I applaud leadership in Essex County, Loudoun County, and the Town of Purcellville for exploring how their agricultural assets can be better utilized and grown for future job creation opportunities.”

The AFID planning grants program, funded annually at $250,000, was developed in 2012 to encourage local and regional governments to think strategically about how they can better support and integrate agriculture and forestry-based industries into their community’s overall economic development efforts.  The planning grants are part of the larger Governor’s AFID program, an economic development tool specifically for agriculture and forestry value-added or processing projects.  AFID economic development grants are available for political subdivisions of the Commonwealth interested in growing their agriculture and forestry industries by strategically targeting for assistance those businesses that add value to Virginia grown agriculture and forestal products.   
                        
“The two projects are prime examples of what we hoped the AFID would do for localities interested in building on their agricultural and forestry economic assets,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd P. Haymore. “Essex County will utilize its grant funding to better incorporate agriculture and forestry into their strategic economic development growth plans, a primary goal of the AFID program.  AFID funds will be used by the Town of Purcellville, working in partnership with Loudoun County, to explore the creation of a possible viticulture and enology center, an excellent example of seeking new initiatives that can have lasting, positive impacts on a region’s agriculture and forestry sectors.”
Applications for AFID planning grants are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the fiscal year.  Successful funding requests must show a clear need to be addressed, a solution to be undertaken, demonstrate strong support from local government and the agriculture and forestry community, and be able to match each dollar requested with a dollar of local government funds, or allowable in-kind contributions. Localities interested in applying may visit http://vdacs.virginia.gov/agribusiness/planning.shtmlor contact Stephen Versen at stephen.versen@vdacs.virginia.govor 804.786.6911 for more information.
Details on the two grant awards are below:
1.      Project Title:  Loudoun County Viticulture and Enology Education Center
Applicant:      Town of Purcellville
Award:           $17,500
Summary:      The Town of Purcellville, with the support of Loudoun County, and in conjunction with Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC), will conduct a feasibility study for the development of a viticultural and enology education center, using as a model the Shelton-Badgett North Carolina Center for Viticulture & Enology.  It would serve Virginia’s wine industry by training the next generation of wine makers and vineyard managers through certificate and degree programs. 
2.      Project Title: Developing a Roadmap for Agriculture and Forestry Industries in   Essex County                              
Applicant:      Essex County Industrial Development Authority
Award:           $17,000
Summary:      Through a competitive bidding process, the Essex County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) is proposing to hire a contractor to work with an appointed Essex County Agriculture and Forestry Advisory Board to develop a strategic plan for agriculture and forestry industries within Essex County.  The effort will help the County promote and enhance the competitiveness of its agriculture and forestry industry.

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