$2.9M Grant Will Help Virginia’s Water Economy Face Climate Change

GO Virginia approved the grant to help the Virginia Coastal Resilience And Adaptation Economy Initiative address flooding challenges.

A $2.9 million grant was recently awarded to the Coastal Resilience and Adaptation Economy initiative that will foster innovation and growth in Virginia’s water economy. The project will launch a resilience entrepreneurship competition and establish a business-focused network to engage businesses and facilitate resilient practices.

The project is a collaboration between Virginia Sea Grant, the nonprofit RISE, the Middle Peninsula Chesapeake Bay Public Access Authority, and Old Dominion University.

Virginia Coastal Resilience and Adaptation Economy Initiative
(Credit: Getty Images/KeeTron)

“Flooding, storm surge, and climate change impacts are going to have an impact on every company, every business, every homeowner,” said Virginia Sea Grant Director Troy Hartley. “These adaptation solutions are an economic opportunity. This is a chance for Virginia to launch innovative resilience solutions for the flooding challenges we face in the Commonwealth now, and that other coastal regions will also face in the coming years.”

The $2,937,163 project was funded in part by GO Virginia, a state-funded initiative administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to strengthen and diversify Virginia’s economy and foster the creation of higher wage jobs in strategic industries. This project will provide a pathway for collaboration between GO Virginia regions five and six, which will address flooding challenges faced by both rural and urban economies.

Virginia Coastal Resilience and Adaptation Economy Initiative
GO Virginia Regions 5 and 6 are located along Virginia’s coast. Region 5 includes the cities of Chesapeake, Franklin, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, and Williamsburg; and the counties of Accomack, Isle of Wight, James City, Northampton, Southampton, and York.
Region 6 includes the city of Fredericksburg; and the counties of Caroline, Essex, Gloucester, King and Queen, King George, King William, Lancaster, Mathews, Middlesex, Northumberland, Richmond, Spotsylvania, Stafford, and Westmoreland.

“This project works collaboratively with multiple localities, businesses, and educational partners to help drive innovation in Virginia’s resiliency ecosystem,” said Billy Beale, Chairman of the GO Virginia Region Six Council. “With coastal Virginia continuing to be affected by sea level rise, major assets of Virginia’s economy are at risk of being lost, potentially costing the state billions of dollars in solutions. This project supports Region six’s larger efforts of preserving our coastal communities for regional economic growth.”

RISE will launch a business competition to address rural flooding challenges. The five finalists selected from the competition will receive support from RISE to strengthen their business plans. Finalists will also have a unique opportunity to test their resilience solutions on coastal properties through the Middle Peninsula Chesapeake Bay Public Access Authority.

“What we learned in our past challenges was that it’s not easy to go and find a house that these companies can use to test their retrofit solutions,” said Katerina Oskarsson, RISE Resilience Chief Strategy Officer. “Here, we will have an opportunity to deploy innovative coastal strategies because we will have access to shoreline test sites.”

As part of the project, Old Dominion University will develop the Coastal Virginia Consortium, a multi-stakeholder collaboration that will engage the broader business community through workshops about flood risk and economic impacts. The Consortium will also build on existing collaborative efforts between ODU’s Office of Research, Batten College of Engineering and Technology, and Hampton University, as well as VASG’s partnership in the Hampton Roads Adaptation Forum, to strengthen the region’s adaptation and resilience sector of the economy.

“We know that the private sector’s role is essential in building community resilience,” said Emily Steinhilber, a research assistant professor at Old Dominion University. “By developing a professional consortium to facilitate education, outreach, and training, the Batten College of Engineering and Institute for Coastal Resilience and Adaptation at ODU can use its convening power and expertise to strengthen and expand the resilience and innovation ecosystems in Coastal Virginia.”

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