Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 2.2. Administration of Government
Chapter 24. Boards
11/26/2022

Article 26. Virginia Growth and Opportunity Act.

§ 2.2-2484. Definitions.

As used in this article, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Board" means the Virginia Growth and Opportunity Board.

"Fund" means the Virginia Growth and Opportunity Fund.

"Qualifying region" means a region with a regional council.

"Region" means one or more planning districts or otherwise defined areas designated as a region by the Board for the purpose of administering grants provided pursuant to this article.

"Regional activity" means an economic or workforce development-focused collaborative project or program that is (i) endorsed by a regional council, (ii) consistent with the economic growth and diversification plan developed by the regional council, and (iii) carried out, performed on behalf of, or contracted for by two or more localities, political subdivisions, or public bodies corporate and politic within a region.

"Regional council" means a public body certified by the Board as eligible to receive grants pursuant to this article and that is supported by or affiliated with an existing or newly established organization that engages in collaborative planning or execution of economic or workforce development activities within a region.

2016, cc. 778, 779.

§ 2.2-2485. Virginia Growth and Opportunity Board; membership; terms; compensation.

A. The Virginia Growth and Opportunity Board is established as a policy board in the executive branch of state government. The purpose of the Board is to promote collaborative regional economic and workforce development opportunities and activities.

B. The Board shall have a total membership of 24 members that shall consist of seven legislative members, 14 nonlegislative citizen members, and three ex officio members. Members shall be appointed as follows: four members of the House of Delegates, consisting of the Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations and three members appointed by the Speaker of the House of Delegates; three members of the Senate, consisting of the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriations and two members appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules; two nonlegislative citizen members to be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Delegates, who shall be from different regions of the Commonwealth and have significant private-sector business experience; two nonlegislative citizen members to be appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules, who shall be from different regions of the Commonwealth and have significant private-sector business experience; two nonlegislative citizen members to be appointed by the Governor, who shall be from different regions of the Commonwealth and have significant private-sector business experience; and eight nonlegislative citizen members to be appointed by the Governor, subject to the confirmation of the General Assembly, who shall have significant private-sector business experience. Of the Governor's nonlegislative citizen appointments subject to General Assembly confirmation, no more than two appointees may be from any one region of the Commonwealth. The Speaker of the House of Delegates and the Senate Committee on Rules shall submit a list of recommended nonlegislative citizens with significant private-sector business experience for the Governor to consider in making his nonlegislative citizen appointments. The Governor shall also appoint three Secretaries from the following, who shall serve ex officio with voting privileges: the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, the Secretary of Commerce and Trade, the Secretary of Education, and the Secretary of Finance. Nonlegislative citizen members shall be citizens of the Commonwealth.

C. Legislative members and ex officio members of the Board shall serve terms coincident with their terms of office. After the initial staggering of terms, nonlegislative citizen members shall be appointed for a term of four years. Appointments to fill vacancies, other than by expiration of a term, shall be for the unexpired terms. Vacancies shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointments. No House member appointed by the Speaker of the House shall serve more than four consecutive two-year terms, no Senate member appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules shall serve more than two consecutive four-year terms, and no nonlegislative citizen member shall serve more than two consecutive four-year terms. The remainder of any term to which a member is appointed to fill a vacancy shall not constitute a term in determining the member's eligibility for reappointment.

D. The Board shall elect a chairman and vice-chairman from among its membership. The chairman shall be a nonlegislative citizen member. A majority of the members shall constitute a quorum.

E. Any decision by the Board shall require an affirmative vote of a majority of the members of the Board.

F. Legislative members of the Board shall receive such compensation as provided in § 30-19.12, and nonlegislative citizen members shall receive compensation as provided in § 2.2-2813 for the performance of their duties. All members shall be reimbursed for all reasonable and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties as provided in §§ 2.2-2813 and 2.2-2825.

G. Staff support and technical assistance to the Board and the Governor in carrying out the provisions of this article shall be provided by the agencies of the Secretariats of Commerce and Trade, Education, and Finance.

2016, cc. 778, 779; 2020, c. 738.

§ 2.2-2486. Powers and duties of the Board.

A. The Board shall have the power and duty to:

1. Designate regions for the purpose of administering this article;

2. Certify qualifying regions and regional councils, including developing and implementing guidelines or procedures for such certification;

3. Develop and implement guidelines and procedures for the application for and use of any moneys in the Fund;

4. Receive and assess applications for awards from the Fund submitted by regional councils and determine the distribution, duration, and termination of awards from the Fund for uses identified in such applications;

5. Advise the Governor on the allocation and prioritization of other funds available within the executive branch that may be used to promote economic and workforce development on a regional basis;

6. Advise the Governor on the provision of technical assistance regarding the organization and operation of regional councils, the preparation of applications for Fund awards, and the development, validation, and assessment of regional economic growth and diversification plans and regional activities that receive grants from the Fund;

7. Provide for the collection and dissemination of information concerning local, state, national, and other best practices related to collaborative regional economic and workforce development initiatives that focus on private-sector growth and opportunity;

8. Designate advisory committees with expertise in the industries or clusters around which grant requests are proposed to assist in carrying out the Board's duties;

9. Seek independent analytical assistance from outside consultants, including post-grant assessments and reviews to evaluate the results and outcomes of grants awarded pursuant to this article;

10. Enter into contracts to provide services to regional councils to assist with prioritization, analysis, planning, and implementation of regional activities;

11. Submit to the Governor and the General Assembly an annual report for publication as a report document as provided in the procedures of the Division of Legislative Automated Systems for the processing of legislative documents and reports. The chairman shall submit to the Governor and the General Assembly an annual executive summary of the interim activity and work of the Board no later than December 1. The executive summary shall be submitted for publication as a report document as provided in the procedures of the Division of Legislative Automated Systems for the processing of legislative documents and reports and shall be posted on the General Assembly's website; and

12. Perform such other activities and functions as the Governor and General Assembly may direct.

B. The development of guidelines and procedures to implement the provisions of this article shall be exempt from the provisions of the Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq.).

2016, cc. 778, 779.

§ 2.2-2487. Virginia Growth and Opportunity Fund.

A. There is hereby created in the state treasury a special nonreverting fund to be known as the Virginia Growth and Opportunity Fund. The Fund shall be established on the books of the Comptroller. All moneys appropriated by the General Assembly for the Fund, and from any other sources, public or private, shall be paid into the state treasury and credited to the Fund. Interest earned on moneys in the Fund shall remain in the Fund and be credited to it. Any moneys remaining in the Fund, included interest thereon, at the end of each fiscal year shall not revert to the general fund but shall remain in the Fund. Expenditures and disbursements from the Fund shall be made by the State Treasurer on warrants issued by the Comptroller upon written request signed by the chairman of the Board.

B. Moneys in the Fund shall be used to facilitate regional collaboration on economic growth and diversification. Specifically, the Fund shall be used to incentivize and encourage cooperation among business, education, and government on regional strategic economic development and workforce development efforts. Available moneys in the Fund shall be allocated as follows:

1. A portion of the Fund may be used to support the initial organizational efforts of each regional council, such as capacity-building activities, project prioritization, and studies and analyses related to the development of an economic growth and diversification plan for the region, including identification of existing and prospective gaps in education and skills within the region;

2. A portion shall be reserved for specific projects in each region on the basis of a region's share of state population, based on population estimates made by the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia. However, the Board may cancel such reservation in whole or in part if, in the Board's judgment, the region has failed to establish a certified regional council or to otherwise meet the qualifications for grant funding in accordance with this article; and

3. A portion shall be competitively awarded on the basis of expected economic impact and outcomes without regard to a region's population.

Except for initial grants awarded pursuant to subdivision 1, no more than eight percent of any grants from the Fund to a single regional council shall be used for administrative or planning purposes.

C. Public comment shall be received by the Board when making decisions regarding awards from the Fund.

D. No more than 90 percent of moneys in the Fund shall be awarded or allocated in any fiscal year.

2016, cc. 778, 779.

§ 2.2-2488. Formation of regional councils.

A. A regional council may be established in each region identified by the Board. Regional councils shall solicit, review, and recommend regional activity projects to the Board in accordance with this article.

B. When there is no certified regional council in existence in a region, the Board may provide for the formation of a regional council by designating a formation committee chairman and two members from the region. The formation committee chairman shall be a nonlegislative citizen member of the Board, and the chairman may designate up to two additional members of the formation committee. The formation committee shall be responsible for such consultation and recruitment within the region as is likely to result in certification of a regional council for the region. The formation committee chairman and members may serve as officers and members of the regional council.

C. A regional council shall include representatives from (i) the education sector, including school divisions, community colleges, and public institutions of higher education; (ii) the economic and workforce development sector; (iii) local government; (iv) planning district commissions; (v) nonprofit organizations; and (vi) other entities that significantly affect regional economic or workforce development. Membership may include one or more nonlegislative citizen members of the Board from the region. A majority of the members of a regional council shall be from the private sector with demonstrated significant private-sector business experience. A regional council shall be chaired by a citizen member from the region with significant private-sector business experience.

D. The Board shall certify that the regional council member selection process, membership, governance, structure, composition, and leadership meet the requirements of this article and the program guidelines and procedures. The Board shall certify that the regional council has adopted bylaws and taken other such steps in its organizational activities and business plan as are necessary or required by Board guidelines and procedures to provide for accountability for and oversight of regional activities funded from the Fund.

E. Public comment shall be received by the Board when certifying a regional council.

2016, cc. 778, 779.

§ 2.2-2489. Award of grants to regional councils.

A. The Board shall establish guidelines, procedures, and objective criteria for the award and distribution of grants from the Fund to regional councils.

B. In order to qualify to receive grants from the Fund, a regional council shall develop an economic growth and diversification plan to (i) promote private-sector growth and opportunity in the region; (ii) identify issues of economic competitiveness for the region, including gaps in education and skills required to meet existing and prospective employer needs within the region; and (iii) outline steps that the collaborating business, education, and government entities in the region will pursue to expand economic opportunity, diversify the economy, and align workforce development activities with the education and skills needed by employers in the region. A regional council shall review such plan not less than biennially while the regional council is receiving grants from the Fund.

C. The Board shall only consider those regional activities endorsed by a regional council in its application for grants from the Fund. For any regional activity included in a regional council's application, the regional council shall identify (i) the amount of grants requested and the number of years for which grants are sought; (ii) the participating business, education, and government entities and their respective roles and contributions; (iii) the private, local, and other sources of nonstate funding that the grant from the Fund will assist in generating, including specific amounts pledged by such sources as of the application date; (iv) how the regional activity addresses the skills gaps identified in the council's economic growth and diversification plan; and (v) the economic impact or other outcomes that are reasonably expected to result from the proposed regional activity, including timetables and means of measurement.

D. Regional activities eligible for grants from the Fund shall be focused on high-impact, collaborative projects in a region that promote new job creation, entrepreneurship, and new capital investment; leverage nonstate resources to enhance collaboration; foster research, development, and commercialization activities; encourage cooperation among public bodies to reduce costs and duplication of government services; and promote other economic or workforce development activities consistent with this article that are authorized by the Board. The Board shall give initial priority to grant proposals that promote workforce development and other activities focused on eliminating skills gaps identified in a region's economic growth and diversification plan.

E. In determining a regional council's eligibility to receive grants from the Fund, and the amount of such grants, the Board shall review and score the proposed regional activities. Scores shall be assigned on the basis of predetermined criteria established by the Board in its guidelines and procedures based on the following factors:

1. The expected economic impact or outcome of the activity, with particular emphasis on goals identified in the regional council's plan for economic growth and diversification;

2. The fiscal resources from non-Fund sources that will be committed to the activity, including local or federal funds, private contributions, and cost savings expected to be achieved through regional collaboration;

3. The number and percentage of localities, including political subdivisions and bodies corporate and politic, within the region that are participating in the activity, the portion of the region's population represented by the participating localities, and the participation of localities that are outside of the applicant region;

4. The compatibility with other projects, programs, or existing infrastructure in a region to maximize the leverage of grants from the Fund to encourage new collaborative activities;

5. The expected economic impact and outcomes of the project and the complexity of the project relative to the size of the economy of the region or to the population of the participating localities;

6. The projected cost savings and other efficiencies generated by the proposed activity, and the local resources generated by collaboration that have been or will be repurposed to support the activity;

7. The character of the regional collaboration, including the nature and extent of the regional effort involved in developing and implementing the proposed activity, the complexity of the activity, the prospective impact on relations between and among the affected localities, and the prospective impact on collaboration between and among business, education, and government entities in the region;

8. Interstate, inter-regional, and other beneficial forms of collaboration, if any, that will accompany, result from, or be encouraged by the activity;

9. Efficiency in the administration and oversight of regional activities; and

10. Other factors deemed to be appropriate by the Board.

F. Each regional council awarded a grant from the Fund shall issue an annual report that shall include, at a minimum, an assessment of the impact and outcomes from regional activities supported by grants from the Fund and the region's overall progress in addressing the goals and strategies identified in the region's plan for economic growth and diversification. Such assessment shall address performance criteria prescribed in the program guidelines and procedures.

G. Subject to the provisions of § 2.2-2488 and this section, once a regional council becomes eligible for grants from the Fund, the regional council may continue to apply for and receive grants from the Fund to support economic activities consistent with the regional council's economic growth and diversification plan in such amounts and for such duration as the Board may determine in accordance with its guidelines and procedures. The Board may terminate any payments to regional councils that fail to perform in accordance with this article, the Board's guidelines or procedures, or any conditions expressly agreed upon as part of a grant award, or for malfeasance. The Board may require the refund of moneys from the Fund upon such termination. Grants that are terminated shall revert to the Fund for distribution on an unallocated competitive basis.

H. In making Fund recommendations and awards, the Board may consider regional activities that commenced prior to the enactment of this article, provided that the grant-funded program or project will expand the scope of, or increase the number of localities participating in, such preexisting activity.

I. No regional council may have outstanding grant commitments of more than 25 percent of the total amount appropriated to the Fund.

J. The year for grant payments shall be the Commonwealth's fiscal year following the calendar year in which the region qualifies, with payments made annually by the Comptroller upon certification by the Board. Grant amounts shall be made at the sole discretion of the Board.

K. (Effective until July 1, 2023) Any grant awarded from the Fund to a regional council shall require matching funds at least equal to the grant, provided, however, that the Board shall have the authority to reduce the match requirement to no less than half of the grant upon a finding by the Board of fiscal distress or an exceptional economic opportunity in a region. Such matching funds may be from local, regional, federal, or private funds. Matching funds may also be from grants awarded to a locality by the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission but shall not include any other state general or nongeneral funds, from whatever source.

K. (Effective July 1, 2023) Any grant awarded from the Fund to a regional council shall require matching funds at least equal to the grant, provided, however, that the Board shall have the authority to reduce the match requirement to no less than half of the grant upon a finding by the Board of fiscal distress or an exceptional economic opportunity in a region. Such matching funds may be from local, regional, federal, or private funds, but shall not include any state general or nongeneral funds, from whatever source.

L. Decisions of the Board shall be final and not subject to review or appeal.

2016, cc. 778, 779; 2020, c. 525.

§ 2.2-2490. Audit.

The accounts of the Board shall be audited by the Auditor of Public Accounts or his legally authorized representatives as determined necessary by the Auditor of Public Accounts. Copies of the audit shall be distributed to the Governor and to the Chairmen of the House Committee on Appropriations and the Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriations.

2016, cc. 778, 779; 2018, cc. 57, 307.