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On Monday July 6, 2015, eight City of Charlottesville residents graduated from the Growing Opportunity (GO) Driver program. GO Driver is a pre-employment training program that prepares City residents for a career as a Bus Operator with Charlottesville Area Transit (CAT) and other local transit agencies. Over five weeks, graduates obtained training in the areas of customer service, career readiness, workplace essential skills, and commercial driver's license (CDL) preparation. All eight graduates received job offers as a result of successfully completing the program and began paid, on-the-job training on Monday, July 13th.

To date, the GO Driver program has had a total of 20 graduates, with 12 individuals graduating from the pilot in November 2014. GO Driver was initially a partnership between the Office of Economic Development and CAT, but due to the overwhelming success of the first cohort, employer partnerships were expanded to include JAUNT, Charlottesville City Schools, and University Transit Service (UTS).

Due to the success of GO Driver, all of the City's workforce development GO programming (GO Electric, GO Office, and GO CNA) has seen increased interest from not only local job seekers and employers, but also other workforce development agencies throughout Virginia. Charlottesville is proud to lead the way when it comes to being a community that has a well-trained and gainfully employed workforce.  All of the current and future GO programs are initiatives of the City's Strategic Action Team on Workforce Development (SAT) and were recommended in the SAT's 2013 report to City Council, Growing Opportunity: A Path to Self-Sufficiency in Charlottesville.

In late June, the former Red Roof Inn on West Main Street reopened to the public as a Graduate Hotel following a complete renovation. Chicago-based investment company, AJ Capital Partners, purchased the property in 2014 with plans to turn it into one of its first "Graduate Hotels." The Graduate brand targets college markets across America that celebrates each respective town's local culture and history. Graduate Hotels have opened in Tempe, AZ and Athens, GA. The Charlottesville renovation includes 135 refurbished guest rooms, a new café and game room that are open to the public, and additional amenities such as valet parking, complementary bicycles for guest use, and a bridal dressing room. A roof top bar and banquet space are also under construction and expected to open this fall.

The Office of Economic Development assisted Graduate Charlottesville by hosting a customized job fair in April. The job fair, which attracted 60 job seekers, consisted of information sessions, application pre-screening, and onsite interviews with hotel staff. In addition, GO Office, a workforce development training program that prepared City residents for office administrative jobs, provided the hotel with several qualified candidates.

For more information about The Graduate visit For more information about the City's GO initiatives, contact the Office of Economic Development at 434-970-3110 or

Matthew Murphy comes to the Downtown Job Center (DJC) after spending the past four and half years as a pastor at Portico Church in downtown Charlottesville. Prior to moving to Charlottesville, Matthew spent several years in both Southwestern Virginia and the Atlanta area as an entrepreneur, starting two businesses and two non-profit organizations. Matthew also spent many years in the finance industry as a loan officer, credit counselor, and debt collector. Matthew's experience working with all populations make him well-suited for the unique situations that often present themselves at the Downtown Job Center. We are happy to welcome Matthew to the team. Matthew's responsibilities will include assisting clients at the DJC, while also coordinating BankON of Greater Charlottesville, which provides financial literacy training to unbanked and underbanked residents.

Job Fair People LogoOn Wednesday, May 6th, the Charlottesville Community Job Fair was held at John Paul Jones Arena. The Job Fair, which is the largest of its kind in Central Virginia, hosted almost 1,000 job seekers and more than 250 recruiters from over 100 organizations. A wide variety of industries such as healthcare, government, staffing, and education were represented. Many of the area's largest employers participated in the event, including the University of Virginia, Martha Jefferson Hospital, and the City of Charlottesville.

The Job Fair furthers City Council's workforce development efforts by improving employment opportunities for area residents so that all may share in the economic well-being of the City. It is sponsored by the City of Charlottesville in partnership with the County of Albemarle, the Adult Learning Center, American National University, the Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services, OAR, Piedmont Workforce Network, the Virginia Employment Commission, and the Virginia Workforce Center. For those who weren't able to attend the event, a list of participating employers and open positions is available on the Job Fair WEBSITE.

On Tuesday, April 28, 2015, nine Charlottesville residents graduated from the City's GO Office program. GO Office is a pre-employment training program that prepares City residents for a career in office administration. Graduates obtained training in the areas of customer service, career readiness, workplace essential skills, intermediate Microsoft Office, and general office administration.

The GO Office Program was a partnership between the City's Office of Economic Development, University of Virginia Health System, University of Virginia, and Piedmont Virginia Community College Workforce Services. The program was established to help City residents attain self-sufficiency by creating workforce development training that will prepare residents for employment within targeted industries that pay a living wage.

One graduate, who is now employed with Primary Eyecare as a Front Desk Receptionist, shared these thoughts, "Since being in the GO Office program, I have learned to use eye contact, I speak more clearly, and my confidence has soared. I owe it all to the GO Office program and everyone who was involved. This is an excellent program that helps individuals become more than a statistic; it allows us to have a career."

GO Office and other training programs like it were initiatives of the City's Strategic Action Team on Workforce Development (SAT). These initiatives were recommended in the SAT's 2013 report to City Council, Growing Opportunity: A Path to Self-Sufficiency in Charlottesville.

With several construction projects underway and more planned for the future, the OED has created a guide for local businesses to use during construction projects. This Construction Guide serves as a proactive tool for businesses facing large construction projects near their business location. The goal of the guide is to be a source of planning, offering strategies, and information to implement so that business owners can maintain customers, protect access, and successfully manage their business during the construction process. Jason Ness, the OED's Business Development Manager, stated, "The OED is dedicated to maintaining Charlottesville as a business-friendly community. We've spent the last several months organizing this guide in an effort to create this resource. We realize this guide isn't a solution to all construction project issues, but we intend it to be a point of reference for City business owners." In May, the guide will be available at If you are interested in receiving a printed copy, please contact Jason at

On February 6, 2015, the Charlottesville Downtown Job Center hosted the UVA Jobs Information Session at the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library. This event connected recruiters from the University of Virginia Health System, the University of Virginia, and the University of Virginia Temporary Search Group with local job seekers. Seventy-eight job seekers attended the event and listened to recruiters talk about employment opportunities within their organizations, how to apply for those jobs, and best practices when applying. This event was a great opportunity for job seekers to learn about the jobs that are available, have their questions answered by the people who screen applications, and network with the same recruiters who interview candidates for employment with these organizations.

The event also served as the recruitment kickoff for the GO Office training program. GO Office is a six week training program, free to eligible participants, that will prepare City residents for a career in office administration. The curriculum of this program was designed in part by the same recruiters who spoke at the UVA Jobs Information Session. Recruitment is currently underway for the GO Office training program and training will begin in mid-March. Upon graduation, participants will be equipped with the knowledge and training needed to make them more competitive when applying for positions with UVA Health System.

This event provided a great opportunity for recruiters and job seekers to connect and network. Job seekers who attended the event were able to see what employment opportunities exist at the University of Virginia Health System and University of Virginia and get advice that will help them navigate the application and interview process. The event was declared a success by the recruiters and job seekers alike and, as a result, University of Virginia recruiters will be coming to the Downtown Job Center two days each month to meet with job seekers on a one-on-one basis.

On January 30th, the Office of Economic Development (OED) gave a presentation to a group of 24 representatives from the Chinese province of Guizhou. This delegation hosted by the University of Virginia School of Continuing and Professional Studies, in the United States learning about a range of topics, ranging from economic development to public administration. The group was made up of teachers, lawyers, judges, business owners, public officials and several other professions. They are in the United States until May and plan to travel to other cities to receive similar presentations regarding the functions and strategies of local government.

The OED presented an overview of their duties to the delegation and gave the group an idea of the department's work. The ultimate goal was to give the group guidance in identifying economic issues and showing them how these issues have been addressed in Charlottesville. The OED specifically addressed the topics of business assistance and workforce development and how staff works to achieve success in these areas. Programs such as the Advancing Charlottesville Entrepreneurs (ACE) program and the Go Driver program were key points in exemplifying strategies to foster economic growth from both a business and employment side. In doing so, they were able to give these representatives strategies to take back to the Guizhou province.

On November 10, 2014, twelve Charlottesville residents graduated from the GO Driver Program. GO Driver is a pre-employment training program that prepares City residents for a career as a Relief Transit Bus Operator with Charlottesville Area Transit (CAT). Graduates obtained training in the areas of customer service, career readiness, workplace essential skills, and commercial driver's license (CDL) preparation.

To date, eight of the twelve graduates have obtained employment with CAT, earning $15.18 per hour, and are now undergoing paid, on-the-job training. It is anticipated that the remaining four graduates will be employed by early January 2015.

The GO Driver Program was a partnership between the City's Office of Economic Development and Charlottesville Area Transit. The program was established for two primary reasons: 1.) to help City residents attain self-sufficiency by creating workforce development training programs that will prepare them for employment within targeted industries paying a living wage, and 2.) to assist CAT in finding a qualified workforce to fill vacant bus driver positions.

Due to the success of the GO Driver Program, a second cohort is being planned for early spring 2015. Additionally, two new training programs based on GO Driver are also being developed and planned for 2015. GO Driver and these future programs are all initiatives of the City's Strategic Action Team on Workforce Development (SAT), which were recommended in the SAT's 2013 report to City Council, Growing Opportunity: A Path to Self-Sufficiency in Charlottesville.

The Office of Economic Development has launched a new platform to display and distribute Charlottesville business data and demographic information. Going live on December 11th, the new website allows customized reports to be created and downloaded.

The OED maintains an extensive amount of relevant business and community-based information. This new platform allows this data and commonly sought after information to be collected and distributed, utilizing user-friendly technology.  "The Office of Economic Development is always looking for ways to improve its service delivery," said Chris Engel, Director of Economic Development. "This new tool enhances access for prospective and existing businesses seeking information about the City."

The new platform was created through collaboration between the Office of Economic Development, led by Business Development Manager Jason Ness, and the City's Information Technology Department. IT staff Kangyoon Bae, Nathan Newell, and Steve Hawkes worked with OED staff to research and develop this new platform.

CLICK HERE to visit the Data Report webpage.

On November 12th and 13th, the College and Career Pathways Expo will be held at John Paul Jones Arena for 10th-12th grade students. Over 2,000 students from five local school systems will get the chance to explore potential careers and directly meet businesses and educators. There will be representatives from more than 50 employers offering exhibits in different career cluster areas, such as Health Sciences, Agriculture, Arts, Information Technology, and Architecture. The Expo will also highlight access to college and educational expectations through its "College Central" area with experts from PVCC and UVA available to students. To inspire students about their future and to plan for the opportunities that await them, the event will offer engaging, motivational speakers throughout the day.

The Expo is currently seeking volunteers to help encourage students to explore college and career pathways opportunities, as well as welcome exhibitors, take photographs, and assist with set-up. All volunteers will receive complimentary breakfast and lunch for the day.

The Expo is offered by Piedmont Futures, in partnership with Piedmont Virginia Community College, University of Virginia, John Paul Jones Arena, local employers, and the school districts of the City of Charlottesville, Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, and Nelson counties.

If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Miriam Rushfinn, PVCC Program Manager-Youth & Special Programs at or 434-961-6530. For more information on Piedmont Futures, CLICK HERE.

On Wednesday, September 10th, a ribbon cutting and open house were held to celebrate the opening of the City's new Downtown Job Center, located at 201 E. Market Street in the Lower Level of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library. The establishment of the Downtown Job Center was the result of a recommendation made by the City's Strategic Action Team on Workforce Development in its report, Growing Opportunity: A Path to Self-Sufficiency, which was presented to City Council a little over a year ago.

As part of the Growing Opportunity study, the Strategic Action Team (SAT), made up of twelve City staff from five departments, closely analyzed the need for employment services downtown to ensure that all City residents have access to resources as they navigate their path to self-sufficiency. Based on the SAT's findings, a recommendation was made to Council to establish a downtown satellite to the Virginia Workforce Center - Charlottesville, thus strengthening the City's partnership with Piedmont Workforce Network and the Workforce Center's collocated service providers.

The Downtown Job Center, which is staffed by the Office of Economic Development (OED), works closely with job seekers to help them prepare for the workforce by offering customized services such as assistance with job searches and employment applications, resume writing, and mock interviewing. The Downtown Job Center also works with local employers to help them find qualified job candidates by offering targeted recruitment opportunities and hiring events and developing workforce training programs to meet high demand industry needs.

The OED is excited about this new endeavor and collaboration with so many community partners. Please feel free to stop by the Downtown Job Center to see the space, meet the staff, and find out more about the services being offered!

The City of Charlottesville Downtown Job Center opened its doors on Monday, August 18, 2014. The Center, a satellite of the Virginia Workforce Center - Charlottesville, is located on the lower level of the Jefferson Madison Regional Library at 201 East Market Street. A ribbon cutting ceremony and open house for the Downtown Job Center will occur on Wednesday, September 10th at 11:30am.

The Downtown Job Center was created in part by City Council's initiative to help City residents achieve self-sufficiency through workforce development opportunities. To staff the Center, Cory Demchak was hired as the City's first Job Center Coordinator. In this role, Cory will work with job seekers to help them prepare to join the workforce by offering assistance with job searches, employment applications, resume writing services, interviewing skills, etc. He will also be working with employers to help find suitable job candidates through targeted recruitment opportunities and hiring events.

Most recently Cory was employed with the District 9 Probation and Parole Office, working with residents of Charlottesville and Albemarle. From his experience at District 9, Cory has a strong understanding of the employment barriers that many City residents face on a daily basis. Cory brings his knowledge of our community and a desire to help the citizens of Charlottesville. Please join the Office of Economic Development in welcoming Cory as the City's Job Center Coordinator.

On June 30th, Governor McAuliffe visited Charlottesville's own Relay Foods to announce its selection as a recipient of a $50,000 grant given through the Governor's Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund (AFID). The Commonwealth of Virginia is partnering with the City of Charlottesville and Relay Foods on this project. Along with the $50,000 given by the Commonwealth, the grant will be matched by the Charlottesville Economic Development Authority (CEDA) for a combined total of $100,000.
The company, a leading online grocery store and farmers market, will invest more than $735,000 into the business and create 25 new jobs in the City. In an effort to deliver high quality foods and groceries, Relay Foods connects local farmers and artisans with customers in surrounding areas via its unique website ( Founded in Charlottesville in 2008, Relay Foods has since expanded north to Annapolis, Maryland and as far south as Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Receiving this grant will make continued expansion possible and will help to promote local farmers and businesses within the communities affected.
According to Governor McAuliffe, "We continue to realize the benefits of fully integrating agriculture and forestry into the state's strategic economic development platform. Relay Foods' announcement today not only creates quality new job opportunities for residents of Charlottesville, it strengthens the ties that this innovative and fast-growing company has to the Commonwealth. Supporting entrepreneurs with unique and exciting business models is another way for Virginia to grow and diversify our economy, especially with the variety of agricultural producers across the Commonwealth."
Speaking on behalf of Relay Foods, Zach Buckner, co-founder and CEO of Relay Foods, expressed thanks and reminded the audience of Relay Foods' mission, "At Relay Foods, our goal is to strengthen the local food economy in every community we serve, and we have been able to grow and thrive in Virginia based on our strong partnerships with producers across the state. We look forward to using this AFID grant to continue exploring innovative ways to connect our customers with the fresh and local foods produced by Virginia growers and artisans."