Ascent Virginia Inc. (AVI) currently has five pilot projects designed to advance its goals of creating a linked economy across Virginia.
These pilots are part of Phase II of our roadmap in which we move from creating a coalition and a blueprint for action into developing the critical infrastructure to achieve our goals. We believe these pilots will demonstrate what’s possible and lead to more opportunities to help us assemble the components of the entrepreneurial ecosystem that Virginia needs to achieve long-term sustainable prosperity. We will retain our emphasis on clean technology manufacturing and sustainable agriculture, forestry and ecotourism, but also advocate for other industries.
SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA COUNTIES
AVI is partnering to build a robust creative economy. This includes developing outdoor recreation, the arts, music, and historical and cultural places in ways that attract visitors to the region.
Clinch River Valley Initiative (CRVI)
Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR)
Friends of Southwest Virginia (FSWVA)
Virginia Community Capital, Inc. (VCC)
AVI has connected CRVI, Roanoke Outside and FSWVA to Outdoor Access (private startup) in order to link property owners to recreational renters.
AVI is supporting VCC to train local communities in Airbnb adoption, to fulfill a growing outdoor recreational visitor-stay demand, and to expand other income generation opportunities.
AVI is also part of the CRVI roundtable. Through grant opportunities with DCR, we are exploring ways to expand all-terrain vehicle trails in the region.
AVI continues to be a resource to creative economy organizations in the region but has wrapped up its creative economy focus. Future efforts will emphasize 2020 initiatives highlighted earlier.
Energy and Jobs Panel
AVI’s mission is to build a linked statewide economy in the clean technology and sustainability sector. Arlington County has outlined a bold environmental vision in its Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy. The county wishes to leverage its economic prowess and university infrastructure to become a statewide leader in expanding entrepreneurship, job creation and renewable energy.
Economic Development and Energy Leaders
AVI is partnering with Matt De Ferranti (a new Arlington County Board member) and other economic development and energy leaders to host a 2019 panel with three actionable areas:
a. Advancing economic development in clean technology jobs.
b. Growing Arlington’s renewable energy footprint.
c. Strengthening its workforce and nurturing entrepreneurship locally.
AVI hosted a roundtable in September 2019 and will champion key ideas from the meeting in 2020. For more information, please click here.
WISE COUNTY AND STATEWIDE
AVI is attempting to build, nurture and support an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Southwest Virginia (SWVA). Current efforts are focused primarily on lifestyle businesses. AVI is working with local organizations to pivot to more high-growth opportunities and find ways to link entrepreneurship-focused organizations statewide to opportunities in SWVA.
Michael "Alex" McGlothlin
Opportunity Southwest Virginia (Opportunity SWVA)
Oxbow Center at The University of Virginia, Wise County Campus
Rain Source Capital
Statewide entrepreneurship and business organizations
AVI plans to host an informal roundtable with all of the commonwealth’s entrepreneurship-focused entities including incubators, accelerators, Small Business Development Centers (part of the Small Business Administration) and university technology transfer offices to discuss the state of entrepreneurship in Virginia.
Separately, AVI is working to develop a Southwest Angel Investment Fund in collaboration with Rain Source Capital. Rain Source Capital’s vision is to build a national community-based system of investors, capital and expertise to grow private companies close to where local investors live.
AVI is being advised by Alex McGlothlin on developing a regulated crowd-funding model for the state, with Southwest Virginia offering an excellent pilot opportunity for a community-sourced investment fund. Additional partnerships around federal Opportunity Zones will also be explored.
AVI will continue to work with the Oxbow Center on developing entrepreneurship programming & co-develop an angel investment
SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA COUNTIES
Leveraging our networks, AVI seeks to connect businesses and other entities to the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) and other southwest organizations to explore and expand manufacturing possibilities in the southwest. VCEDA serves as a gateway to manufacturing, financing and customers.
Scott County Economic Development
Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA)
AVI introduced to VCEDA four companies seeking assistance. Those companies are:
a. C2CNT (Carbon capture technology)
b. Kinometrix (Sensor-based patient rehabilitation)
c. MELD (Additive manufacturing and materials)
d. Powerfield (World’s simplest power grid system)
AVI and VCEDA jointly hosted a Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) Seminar in December 2018. The HUBZone program helps small businesses in urban and rural communities gain preferential access to federal procurement opportunities. These preferences go to small businesses that obtain HUBZone certification in part by employing staff who live in a HUBZone.
AVI will continue to network and identify manufacturing partners for SWVA. MELD and POWERFIELD are both in growth phases and plan to revisit manufacturing in SWVA as their needs/markets grow in 2020.
Youth Apprenticeship/Future Workforce
AVI seeks to develop a high school youth apprenticeship program that differs from traditional internships and cooperatives. This is a wage-earning immersion program that starts at age 17 (high school juniors) and expedites apprenticeship completion, connects employers to local talent early, and offers the promise of a job to participants.
AVI and SVAMCOE have jointly facilitated three meetings with different partners.
Stakeholders have toured Komatsu and Tempur-Pedic and identified 2-3 VDOLI-approved apprenticeship job types. A similar outreach is being made to smaller manufacturing companies in the region to explore a diverse array of apprenticeship opportunities/sites.
AVI is also working with MECC and SVAMCOE to develop educational programming tailored to a pilot group of 5 students starting in 2019/2020.
Ongoing (in a new form and led by SVAMCOE)
While AVI is no longer involved as a primary partner, SWAMCOE is taking the lead on developing simulated workplaces in SWVA modeled after West Virginia’s workforce development strategy. This is an interplay between traditional workforce and apprenticeship models