The Southern Virginia Higher Education Center is expanding its IT Academy thanks to a $505,929 grant recently awarded by the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission.

It was one of 21 Workforce Financial Aid and Competitive Education grant requests from across the tobacco region. The approved requests cover in-demand areas such as nursing, IT and cybersecurity.

This specific grant will help fill the need of skilled workers in the growing IT field, particularly with Microsoft and Mid-Atlantic Broadband.

MBC and Microsoft announced in April a partnership to build a SOVA Innovation Hub in South Boston. Microsoft also houses a data center in Mecklenburg County that is expanding to create 100 new jobs

The $505,929 grant for the SVHEC will support the majority of new personnel costs over three years for two new instructors, a lab technician and marketing and materials, according to a summary provided by SVHEC when applying for the grant.

This funding is to support expansion of the IT Academy expanding the lab and adding new CompTIA certification programs in IT Fundamentals+, IT Linux+, PenTest+ and Cloud+.

Microsoft also has committed a $200,000 match to be used primarily for renovations and equipping costs. They also have requested additional cohorts for employees working half-week shifts.

The SVHEC also plans to match the grant from existing staff for value of time contributions to the project, $13,680 in-kind for value of office space and $43,700 cash contribution toward renovations and equipment costs.

An additional repair lab is needed to accommodate concurrent classes including their Career Tech Academy that serves dual enrollment students from Halifax County, Mecklenburg County and Charlotte County.

Tuition revenue projections are at $158,250 total during the three year grant period, and $151,875 of this is proposed to be applied the two instructors in years two and three, the summary said.

The commission first supported the IT Academy in Sept. 2014 with a $440,000 grant to establish the academy.

Since its inception in August of 2015, 225 individuals in 14 cohorts earned certifications in CompTIA A+, Server + and/or Network +.

A total of 85 percent of completers secure employment within 12 months of finishing their program.

Projected enrollment for all IT programs, new and existing, is estimated at 583 over the next three years.

Mid-Atlantic Broadand, Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation at Virginia International Raceway and Charlotte County Public Schools are supporters of these programs who submitted employer letters along with SVHEC’s grant request.