The Southern Virginia Regional Alliance (SVRA) and Virginia’s Growth Alliance (VGA) joined forces with the chambers of commerce and economic development organizations and launched the Bridge to Recovery program to support the GO Virginia Region 3 service area. The program provides support to businesses and local suppliers as they maneuver through the COVID-19 pandemic.  

To assist with local and regional economic recovery tracking, the Bridge to Recovery team has launched three economic recovery dashboards to track the region’s recovery from COVID-19. 

Recovery dashboards are available for the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance, Virginia’s Growth Alliance and the GO Virginia Region 3. 

These regions encompass the cities of Emporia, Danville and Martinsville; and the counties of Amelia, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Greensville, Halifax, Henry, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, Patrick, Pittsylvania and Prince Edward.

Economic and business activity help gauge the pace of Southern Virginia’s economic recovery from the pandemic. The dashboards serve as an economic tool for the business community and are focused on three main areas: economy, labor market and health and wellness. 

Data activity is tracked statewide, regionally and at the city and county level. The dashboards are updated frequently to provide insight and tracking ability in thirteen timely and leading measures. These include the regional percentage change in small business openings, bankruptcies trends, employment and earnings by sector, job postings 30-day trend and other measures. 

The SVRA and VGA developed the dashboards as a resource for regional leaders to better understand the region’s economy and learn how businesses are recovering from COVID-19.  

The recovery dashboard webpage also lists local funding available, school reopening schedules for the region’s school system, and health and wellness information.

Recovery dashboards are available for the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance www.svra.org, Virginia’s Growth Alliance at www.vagrowth.com and GO Virginia Region 3 at www.SoVaBridgeToRecovery.com.

Bridge to recovery

The SVRA and VGA were approved for $925,000 from GO Virginia for the program to provide immediate and impactful support to businesses through the multiple recovery periods of the pandemic and bridge supply chain needs of companies with service providers.

Since the program began in July, they have created a supplier network that enables businesses who need specific professional services or products due to COVID-19, to connect with businesses in the Region 3 footprint who supply those products and services. 

This has created an efficient way for businesses to find what they need to operate during this unusual economic situation. Approved for-profit businesses can utilize companies on the prequalified supplier database to receive a cost match payment to suppliers of up to $20,000. 

65 applications have been reviewed from the GO VA Region 3 service area. Funding has been approved for 46 businesses and 50 suppliers have been added to the prequalified supplier database. 

To date the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance and Virginia’s Growth Alliance have approved over $300,000 in funding to suppliers in the GO VA Region 3 footprint to support local businesses.  

Funding was originally provided for personal protective equipment (PPE) toolkits, construction modification and COVID-19 related services. Due to heavy demand, all funding for PPE toolkits have been allocated for the initial round of funding. 

Businesses that supply PPE conversions (construction, propane heaters, modification and expansion materials) and professional services (accounting, legal, human resources, web design, janitorial deep cleans) are still encouraged to apply as a prequalified supplier. Prequalified supplier applications and assistance applications are open at www.SoVaBridgeToRecovery.com.

Should funding become available for PPE toolkits in the future, another round of funding will be extended. 

COVID-19 task force

The COVID-19 task forces are actively working in both the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance region and Virginia’s Growth Alliance region with shared programs and outreach efforts. They include the 16 chambers of commerce and 12 local economic development offices across the region.  

The task forces have provided supplier focus groups, events and webinars for expert advice and news blasts that disseminate information to share with their members and area businesses. Chambers and economic development offices are sharing questions, solutions, research and programming to help one another and their constituents through the pandemic and recovery.

Mike Davidson, part-time executive director of the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority, and Mitzi McCormick of the Halifax County Chamber of Commerce are members of the SoVa COVID-19 Task Force.