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Entrepreneurship program backed by regional GO Virginia council

A nonprofit group is poised to serve as the quarterback in a game plan to enhance the technology ecosystem in the Roanoke, New River and Lynchburg regions.

The Valleys Innovation Council will coordinate the efforts under a proposal endorsed Thursday by a GO Virginia regional council, which recommended the organization receive nearly $300,000 in a state grant for the entrepreneurship program.

The project, which includes another $150,000 in matching funds from local supporters, now goes to the GO Virginia state board for final approval.

GO Virginia was created by the General Assembly in 2017 to spur private sector growth and high-wage jobs, giving nine regional councils the ability to disburse more than $33 million in state funds for workforce development strategies in their areas.

The funding recommended by the initiative’s Region 2 Council — which covers 18 cities and counties stretching from the Lynchburg area to the New River Valley and north to the Alleghany Highlands — was under a special mechanism for regional entrepreneurship coordination.

While the area tops state and national averages for academic research expenditures, that has failed to translate into economic growth at the rate desired by organizers. Region 2 has a 5% rate of new business formation, compared to 7% for Virginia and 8% for the United States.

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