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Online Update of News and Events in Charlottesville

 

CHARLOTTESVILLE RESIDENTS GRADUATE FROM GO DRIVER PROGRAM
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.

OED LAUNCHES NEW DATA TOOL
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.

PVCC COLLEGE & CAREER PATHWAYS EXPO
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 mrushfinn@pvcc.edu or 434-961-6530. For more information on Piedmont Futures, CLICK HERE.

DOWNTOWN JOB CENTER RIBBON CUTTING AND OPEN HOUSE
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!

OED OPENS DOWNTOWN JOB CENTER AND HIRES CORY DEMCHAK AS COORDINATOR
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.


CHARLOTTESVILLE'S RELAY FOODS RECEIVES $100,000 GRANT FROM AFID AND CEDA
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 (www.RelayFoods.com). 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."
 
 
CITY BUSINESSES RECOGNIZED AT 2ND ANNUAL BBC AWARDS
June 19th marked the second annual Better Business Challenge awards ceremony, during which local businesses were honored for their dedication to environmental sustainability and efficiency. The event was held at the Paramount Theater by Better World Betty and the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP). Over 100 people were in attendance.
 
Among those recognized were several City businesses enrolled in the Office of Economic Development's Advancing Charlottesville Entrepreneurs (ACE) grant program. Award winners included: Amazing Cleaning Service, which received a LEED-compliant backpack and green cleaning supplies; The Jacksons 2 Body and Soul Salon, which received an Energy Star purifier and programmable thermostat; and My Baby's Security, which was awarded reusable art, mealtime supplies, and safer sunscreen.
 
In receiving the award, Ernestine Mathews, owner and founder of My Baby's Security said, "I felt really, really honored." She went on to say how appreciative and thrilling winning the award was and that "It's not only me who won this award, but everyone who helped me get here did too."
 
Many other City businesses also received awards including:

  • The Paramount Theater and Charlottesville Area Transit - Kilowatt Crackdown Award for the largest reduction in energy use
  • Woodward Properties - Ripple Effect Winner for excellence in environmental stewardship
  • ReThreads - Top Innovator for sustainable ingenuity
  • Harvest Moon Catering - Green Leader for being a trailblazer in sustainable practices
  • Rivanna Natural Designs, Vinegar Hill Café, M-Cam, Indoor Biotechnologies, and Relay Foods were also named 2014 Better Business Champions.


CBIC HONORS TECHNOLOGY INNOVATORS AT ANNUAL GALA
On May 29th, over 240 people attended the Charlottesville Business Innovation Council's (CBIC) 16th Annual CBIC Awards Gala at Farmington Country Club. The event announced this year's seven award honorees. CBIC awards serve to recognize innovative achievements and leadership within the community. This year's winners were all City-based, with the exception of the Red Apple Award winner.

Dr. Karen Rheuban, Director of the Center for Telehealth for UVA Health System, won the People's Choice Navigator Award, a category that recognizes significant leadership in the local or regional entrepreneurial high tech community. The Rocket Award, given to an entity for rapid commercialization of a technology or product, was given VividCortex for bringing technical intelligence to information systems. The Spotlight Award went to Relay Foods for connecting local grocery shoppers with local food sources. The Breakthrough Award was given to PsiKick for their ultra-low power wireless sensors for batteryless chips.

The Tom Tom Founders Festival won the Community Award, for its annual celebration of music, art, and innovation. The Leadership Award was given to Jim Bain of Flying Dog Media for exemplary contributions to supporting and strengthening the organization. The Red Apple Award, given to a K-12 teacher for inspiring and preparing students to embrace the possibilities of technology, went to Michelle Karpovich, a Chemistry teacher at Western Albemarle High School.
 
 
CITY MARKET DEVELOPMENT PROJECT MOVES FORWARD
The City Market and a significant downtown mixed-use development moved closer to fruition following a recent City Council action taken on June 16th. The Council voted unanimously to direct staff to proceed with negotiations to develop a contract for sale of City-owned property with the principals of the Market Plaza submission. Upon completion, the mixed-use building would feature 18,000 square feet of retail space, 58,000 square feet of commercial space, 67 apartment units, and public parking. The City Market would be held in a half-acre public plaza with enough space for 115 vendors.  Given the complexity of the project it is not known at this time when an agreement will be reached. City Council approval of the final agreement will be required before the land sale can occur.
 
 
HEMOSHEAR RELOCATES TO FORMER MJH BUILDING
The year 2014 continues to be an exciting year for City- based bio-tech company HemoShear, which was founded in 2008 and has grown to 35 employees over the past six years. In the last few weeks, HemoShear has announced several exciting milestones. In fact, HemoShear was awarded funding by the Virginia Biosciences Health Research Corporation (VBHRC) for a public/private collaboration with the University of Virginia and George Mason University. This partnership will support cancer and tumor research and is supported by the National Cancer Institute. Including the most recent VBHRC award, HemoShear has received over $10 million dollars in federal and state funding for critical medical research since 2008.
 
Additionally, HemoShear just announced  that it has secured $8.7 million dollars in private equity offerings. This influx of capital will allow HemoShear to continue its important research and discovery, and it demonstrates the confidence that private investors have in the growing company. Along with these two announcements, HemoShear's relocation into the new office space all showcases its growing role in the pharmaceutical research industry.
 
HemoShear is currently in the process of relocating all its equipment and current research in a well-planned move to the third floor of the former Cardwell Center at Martha Jefferson Hospital. The new, state-of-the-art facilities were designed by local architect Se Jin Kwak and constructed by Charlottesville-based construction firm CMS, Inc. According to Vice President of Operations, Nikki Hastings, "The advantages of moving to this new facility are very significant for the growth of HemoShear. We look forward to being in a great downtown location to leverage scaling opportunities and improve upon our operations. The transition will allow us to continue to perform cutting-edge scientific research with our pharmaceutical partners."
 
The City and Charlottesville Economic Development Authority assisted with the rapid transition of the entire hospital property through the creation of a performance agreement with the master developer.
 
 
CITY TRANSPORTATION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
In continued efforts to support the Strategic Action Team's (SAT) work of exploring and addressing issues pertaining to employment challenges, the GO Ride program was created to provide City residents have to transportation. This program is a collaboration between members of the SAT, Charlottesville Transit (CAT), and numerous community-based workforce development agencies.
 
In 2012, the City of Charlottesville created the Strategic Action Team on Workforce Development. This intra-departmental group of City staff explored issues surrounding workforce development barriers within the City of Charlottesville. In July 2013, the SAT presented a comprehensive report entitled Growing Opportunity: A Path to Self-Sufficiency in Charlottesville to City Council. This report included an overview of the workforce climate in Charlottesville, barriers to employment for low-income City residents, and recommendations from the team on how these barriers can be addressed. In this report, the SAT recognized transportation as one of the major barriers to employment for low-income City residents, specifically recognizing issues associated with finding, maintaining, and succeeding with employment for Charlottesville residents seeking self-sufficiency.
 
The GO Ride program is a pilot program that offers a 90-day bus pass to community agencies that identify eligible participants for this program. Participants will receive fully subsidized CAT monthly passes, equivalent to at least 90 days. The 90-day timeframe will help participants search for a job, secure employment, and receive their first paycheck. Participants will be responsible for interacting with the community-based workforce development agency staff to provide progress updates and also to request additional monthly passes,within the 90-day time frame. SAT staff will serve as a liaison between the Workforce Development entity and accessing bus passes. For more information, please call 970-3110 or email GOride@charlottesville.org.