What's New


Online Update of News and Events in Charlottesville


The Office of Economic Development (OED) has been recognized with an Outstanding Achievement in Local Government Innovation Award from the Alliance for Innovation for its job-driven workforce development program - GO Driver. The award is given to local governments that have shown their dedication to stretching and improving the boundaries of day-to-day government operations and practices, implementing creative business processes, and improving the civic health of the community.

GO Driver is a seven-week workforce development program that prepares City residents for a career with Charlottesville Area Transit (CAT) and City Schools Pupil Transportation as a Relief Bus Operator by providing training in workplace and career readiness, customer service, passenger service and safety, and commercial driver license instruction. Since October 2014, three cohorts have been conducted, and the fourth is currently underway. Almost 30 City residents have been placed into employment with CAT, Pupil Transportation, and JAUNT and are now earning a self-sufficient wage. 

In receiving the award, Hollie Lee, Chief of Workforce Development Strategies for the City stated, "We are very excited to receive an award that recognizes the innovativeness of GO Driver. The job-driven model used for the program is a new approach to training. We are no longer training people and hoping that they get a job. We start with the job and train individuals specifically for that job based on what the employer tells us they are looking for in a qualified candidate."

OED staff will accept the award at the Alliance for Innovation's 2016 Transforming Local Government Conference, which will be held in Saint Paul, Minnesota in June.

On Tuesday, April 26th, the Office of Economic Development, in collaboration with the Procurement & Risk Management Division, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Charlottesville Business Diversity Council teamed up to host an event that provided information to local businesses on selling their services and products to the City. Over 50 business representatives attended the event to learn more about the City's procurement opportunities. 

The Selling to the City workshop offered valuable pieces of advice for business people interested in selling their products or services to the City. Topics included:
     Buying trends for the City of Charlottesville
     How to get your business ready for public contracting
     Explaining the City's new vendor registration system
     How to become SWaM & DBE certified

This is an annual event to promote business opportunities for City-based businesses and planning for 2017 is already underway!

The OED has been recognized with an award of excellence from the Virginia Economic Developers Association (VEDA) for its job-driven workforce development program - GO Driver. The initiative was recognized for its innovative approach to aligning economic and workforce development and moving people towards self-sufficiency through specific training and job placement. In accepting the award, Hollie Lee, Chief of Workforce Development Strategies for the City stated, "We are very pleased to receive this award from VEDA, and we look forward to the continued success of our Growing Opportunity programs." GO Driver is getting ready to train its fourth cohort of students for positions as relief bus drivers with Charlottesville Area Transit and Charlottesville City School Pupil Transportation. Four awards were presented as part of the VEDA spring conference in Williamsburg this month. Each recipient of a VEDA award will be automatically entered into the Southern Economic Development Council (SEDC) award program for consideration this fall.

The Moneytree™ Report by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and the National Venture Capital Association listed the Charlottesville MSA as having the greatest growth of its ecosystem for 2015. The report measured the compound growth rate of a number of companies that received venture capital funding since 2010. In 2015, there were nine companies in the Charlottesville MSA region that received $27.7 million in venture funding compared to 2010, when only one company received $250,000. This equates to a 156.5% increase, which makes Charlottesville the area to experience the greatest rate of growth of venture capital investment.  Oklahoma City, OK has the second greatest rate of growth.

For more information on this report, please CLICK HERE.

The Office of Economic Development recently launched a new flash grant initiative for eligible City-based businesses to compliment other grants offered through the Advancing Charlottesville Entrepreneurs (ACE) Program.
The flash grant funding  of up to $500 is available to new and existing businesses to implement marketing or advertising campaigns to attract customers.
Businesses that submit a flash grant application will not require a formal interview. Applications will be scored based upon the detail of the business plan to leverage grant funding to help increase its customer base. The ACE Flash Grant Program will award grants to new and existing businesses on a first-come, first-serve basis. Applications are accepted throughout the entire fiscal year, ending in June 2016, or until the grants funds are exhausted.
Additionally, the ACE Program is still offering micro-grants be used by businesses to purchase equipment, goods, or services that will provide immediate impact and increase revenue. Micro-grants of up to $1,000 are awarded for equipment and supplies, and grants not exceeding $1,500 are awarded for advertising, marketing, or business consulting needs. 
ACE Program initiatives are targeted towards existing businesses with the immediate potential to increase revenue. To be eligible for the program, business owners must not exceed certain income limits based on household size. The program is a competitive grant process that serves business owners who emphasize organization, initiative, and the dedication to making their business as success. Funding for the program is provided through the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) with supporting funds provided by the Charlottesville Economic Development Authority (CEDA).
For additional information, please contact Jason Ness at nessj@charlottesville.org or 434-970-3717.

On Tuesday, October 27th, 16 City residents graduated from the City's popular Growing Opportunities (GO) programs. Six individuals graduated from GO Clean and ten graduated from GO Electric. Each of the GO training programs provided training in customer service, career readiness, and essential workplace skills.

GO Clean prepared students for custodial positions with the City of Charlottesville's Public Works Department and Farmington Country Club. All six of the program's participants successfully obtained their Custodial Technican Certification from the Clean Management Institute and as of graduation, five of the six participants have been offered employment. GO Electric graduates received training to become Field Electrical Workers with employer partner Design Electric. Of the ten graduates, eight have already been offered employment.

The City recognizes the value of having healthy relationships with employer partners that will lead to City residents obtaining career ladder opportunities that provides self-sufficient wages. All of the GO programs developed by  City's Office of Economic Development  are initiatives of the City's Strategic Action Team on Workforce Development (SAT) and its 2013 report to City Council, Growing Opportunity: A Path to Self-Sufficiency in Charlottesville.

CBIC Tech TourOn October 8th, CBIC hosted its 12th Annual Tech Tour. Over 70 technology-based organizations volunteered their time and opened their doors to host 90 separate tours for students. This allowed the students to envision their futures as technology employees, professionals, and entrepreneurs in the next wave of high tech advancements in our area. It was a great day of engaging students about their futures while also showcasing the dynamic, high technology careers in the region.
This was the largest Tech Tour ever, with over 400 students participating from over 25 schools, including Buford Middle School and Charlottesville High School. Students had access to a wide variety of companies, which included learning about technology manufacturing at OESH Shoes and watching mobile apps being created at WillowTree.
The largest accomplishment from the Tour was the ability to raise the amount of the CBIC Tech Tour Scholarship Fund. With an increase in business support, two $2,500 scholarships will be awarded next spring to Tech Tour attendees.



Following a $5 million renovation of the former downtown Regal Cinema property, Violet Crown Cinema will open to the public in early November. The Cinema will offer 10 stadium-style auditoriums with state-of-the-art projectors and sound systems, luxurious seating, and a full bar and restaurant. The Violet Crown Cinema will play first run commercial releases, indie and international films, and documentaries with ticket prices comparable to other theaters.  The Charlottesville cinema marks the third location of a Violet Crown Cinema, with two others in Austin, Texas and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Charlottesville is fortunate to have had downtown theater options for many years including: The Paramount, The Jefferson, Vinegar Hill Theatre, and most recently, the Regal Theater, which opened on the Downtown Mall in 1996.  The opening of the Violet Crown not only continues that tradition, but enhances it by providing a unique movie watching experience in the heart of the City.   

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 oeddatatool.charlottesville.org. If you are interested in receiving a printed copy, please contact Jason at nessj@charlottesville.org.

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.

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.