Manufacturers of transportation equipment in Southwest Virginia received a boost Tuesday with a nearly $1.5 million federal grant initiative designed to strengthen the local economy by creating and retaining high-wage manufacturing jobs.
Ninth District Cong. Rick Boucher (D-Virginia) announced the funding, which he said was provided, at his urging, by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.
Volvo Trucks North America will provide a $175,000 match to the program, called the Western Virginia Transportation Equipment Manufacturing Competitiveness Initiative. That brings the total cost of the project to $1,674,000.
“The federal funds announced today will help transportation manufacturing businesses in Southwest Virginia develop new products, improve manufacturing processes and implement new manufacturing technologies that will make the businesses more competitive in today’s economy and help them create new and retain existing high-wage manufacturing jobs for Southwest Virginia residents,” Boucher said.
The initiative will be administered by New River Valley Planning District Commission in partnership with Mount Rogers Planning District Commission, Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission, Virginia Tech’s Office of Economic Development and Virginia Philpott Manufacturing Extension Partnership.
Besides helping to create and retain high-wage manufacturing jobs, another goal of the initiative is to increase private sector investments to strengthen the region’s economy.
The federal funds will allow for technical assistance to be provided to up to 20 transportation equipment manufacturing companies in Pulaski, Bland, Carroll, Washington, Wythe, Smyth, Grayson, Floyd, Montgomery, Giles, Roanoke and Botetourt counties and Roanoke, Salem, Bristol, Radford and Galax cities.
Boucher said the funds will help companies create new or update existing products to increase revenue, improve manufacturing processes, or implement new technologies in their production or facility operations.
“My highest priority is creating new jobs for Southwest Virginia residents, and strengthening our region’s manufacturing industry is an important part of this effort,” said Boucher.
“The projects enabled by the federal funds … will help Southwest Virginia’s transportation equipment manufacturing companies compete in today’s economy.”