6/14/2017 3:34:00 PM ARC Funds Earmarked For Drone Zone
BY DAVID S. CROSIER Online Editor The city of Covington is among 10 Virginia organizations that have been awarded a total of $2.7 million in Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) awards for projects in the Appalachian region.
The Appalachian region encompasses 25 counties and eight independent cities in Southwest Virginia.
The ARC will finalize approval of these project awards later this year.
“Supporting Virginia’s Appalachian Region with investments in water, sewer, and critical infrastructure is key to building the new Virginia economy in the region," said Governor McAuliffe. “Additionally, by improving outcomes in workforce training, early childhood development, and other fundamental areas we are ensuring federal assistance gives our communities and residents new opportunities. As the Trump administration seeks to cut the funding for this critical support for rural communities, I hope they will evaluate these projects and the many other ways that the ARC creates opportunity in states like Virginia.”
In Covington, the $100,000 the city will receive will be used for renovation work at the newly-created Edgemont Drone Center, located in the former Edgemont Elementary School building on Park Street.
According to Covington City Manager Richard Douglas, the funds will be designated for roof repair and renovations in the back portion of the Edgemont Drone Center building, with the overall goal of converting the former school into a business development, education and recreation facility for drones and drone technology.
Douglas credits Alleghany Highlands Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Marla Akridge and Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission Director of Community Development Programs Eddie Wells for their work in making this project a reality.
“I can’t say enough about how much Marla and Eddie have put into getting this grant secured for not only the city of Covington but also the entire Alleghany Highlands,” he said. “This is going to be a great start to what we envision as the future of the Edgemont Drone Center and drone-related activities in our area.”
“These projects are designed to work in partnership with critical efforts in the region to invest in the infrastructure and workforce components necessary to create new businesses and jobs,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore. “We look forward to seeing these investments build momentum on local initiatives.”
"We are extremely excited about this opportunity for the development of the Alleghany Highlands Drone Zone. This allows us to work on the creative class emerging industries in the area,” Akridge said.
She continued, “Unmanned systems are the future and with the recreational, research & development at this facilities it will put us on the map. I would like to thank the city of Covington elected officials and staff for helping to start this vision."
Established in 1965, the general goal of the ARC program is to assist the region in achieving economic prosperity that more completely reflects the nation’s overall prosperity.
ARC funds are aimed at providing economic development opportunities in the Appalachian Region by funding projects that support the goal of building a strong and sustainable asset-based economy by bringing jobs and prosperity to Appalachian communities, while preserving their character.
Grants Awarded The $2.7 million awarded by the ARC will fund 10 projects in Southwest Virginia.
Including funding for the Edgemont Drone Center project, other grants awarded included:
• LENOWISCO Planning District Commission, Western Lee County Economic Assessment Study, $60,000;
• New River Community College, Radford City Access to Community College Education, $76,938;
• Tazewell County, Falls Mills Adult Day Care, $500,000;
• William King Museum, Cultural Campus Development at William King Museum of Art, $500,000;
• Town of Saint Paul, The Lyric Project, $300,000;
• Wise County PSA, Tacoma Sewer Project, $500,000;
• City of Covington, Alleghany Highlands Drone Zone, $100,000;
• Lee County, Frog Level Phase II Water Project, $500,000;
• People Inc. of Virginia, People Incorporated Project Discovery, $75,844;
• United Way of SWVA, Early Childhood Workforce Development, $99,933.