SJR 111: Southwest Virginia Economic Development Commission
August 2, 2004
The Southwest Virginia
Economic Development Commission held its first meeting at Wytheville Community
Review of the Lacy Commission
Development Partnership staff reviewed the role, actions, and impact of
the 1985 Southwest Virginia Economic Development Commission (Lacy
Commission). He recommended that the commission focus on workforce
development, affordable access to and use of broadband technology, increasing
entrepreneurship, the potential for retirement communities, and specialized
economic development products that require unique facilities for their
production. Complete remarks are available at the commissions legislative
website at http://dls.state.va.us/sjr111 .htm.
P. Johnson asked for clarification regarding the low level of educational
attainment in Southwest Virginia and whether the problem is partially
attributable to a lack of educational opportunities. The percentages of
graduates, literacy levels, and higher education levels all lag behind
those in metropolitan areas. Although tremendous strides have been made
in higher education in Southwest Virginia, there has not been a sufficient
effort to make workforce training reflective of employer needs. Instead,
training provided by local workforce investment boards typically is client-based.
Review of the Rural Virginia
The Rural Virginia
Prosperity Commissions recommendation for creation of a rural center
was passed by the General Assembly in 2004 (SB 407 and HB 1213), and the
Virginia Capital Access Program was funded for an additional $500,000
in 2004. It is essential to attack isolation in rural communities, in
part by expanding the wireless infrastructure to support cell phone access.
The income disparity between rural and urban areas is growing exponentially
and rural areas increasingly contain an aging, less-educated population
due to the out-migration of better-educated young people. For purposes
of the Tiered Incentive Program, Southwest Virginia counties are divided
into three tiers, with Tier 1 containing the most economically
stressed counties. Chairman Puckett noted that none of the Tier 1 counties
has an interstate highway running through it.
Formation of Subcommittees
reviewed the proposed structure of subcommittees and identified potential
members. Members of the audience also recommended potential subcommittee
members. The chairman asked that any recommendations for subcommittee
nominees not made at the meeting be given to Carl Mitchell, Virginia Economic
Staff advised the
commission that a legislative study guideline requires that legislation
creating an interim study committee describe any subgroups the committee
proposes to form. Because SJR 111, the legislation creating the Southwest
Virginia Economic Development Commission, does not identify any subcommittees,
the commission must request an exemption from that guideline from the
Joint Rules Committee.
If the exemption
is granted, the commission will proceed immediately with naming subcommittee
members. Any initial subcommittee meetings likely would be held in October
or November. Staff also briefed the commission on the meetings limitation
(one per quarter) and the requirement that all commission meetings, and
any subcommittee meetings, be noticed in accordance with Virginias
Freedom of Information Act. The commission will request an exemption from
the meetings limitation in order to hold two meetings in the fourth quarter.
Designation of Special Advisors
The commission plans
to appoint special advisors, who would provide guidance and information
on specified issues. The commission requested that suggestions for special
advisors be provided to it for consideration.
suggested that, because 2005 is an election year, commission meetings
should be held early in each quarter to the greatest extent possible.
He recommended that meetings be scheduled for April, June, and August.
noted that commission member Sim Ewing had offered to host a commission
meeting at the University of Virginia-Wise. Commission member Dr. F. David
Wilkin offered to host a meeting at Virginia Highlands Community College.
The Hon. Phillip P. Puckett
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of Legislative Services > Legislative
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