Innovative Technology Talent Development Program Recommended for Funding by GO Virginia Region 1

A partnership of K12, community colleges, colleges, and employers across the region is set to develop the Information Technology workforce in Southwest Virginia.

(Wise, VA) April 29, 2020 – The GO Virginia Region 1 Council recommended funding of $1.38 million for United Way of Southwest Virginia to work with partners to create the Ignite Technology Talent development program in Southwest Virginia.  This award is contingent on the GO Virginia FY21 Per Capita Allocation, with half of the funds being awarded now and the other half contingent on Region One receiving the FY21 Per Capita allocation. The project will be considered for full approval by the state GO Virginia Board in June.  The project leverages additional investments of $1.43 million from the partners.

Partners who will benefit from the grant funding and are co-investing in the project include: United Way of Southwest Virginia, UVA Wise, Mountain Empire Community College, Virginia Highlands Community College, Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, New River Mount Rogers Workforce Development Board, Major Clarity, Region 7 Superintendents Association, Bland County Schools,  Bristol City Public Schools, Buchanan County Schools, Carroll County Schools, Dickenson County Schools, Galax City Schools, Grayson County Schools, Lee County Schools, Norton City Schools, Russell County Schools, Scott County Schools, Smyth County Schools, Tazewell County Schools, Washington County Schools, Wise County Schools, and Wythe County Schools.

“The partner collaboration on this technology initiative is unparalleled in our region.  The strong commitment to providing the workforce needed to support existing economic development initiatives focused on attracting technology sector employers is vitally important to the long-term success of our region and the Commonwealth,” said Melinda Leland, Director of Youth Success at United Way of Southwest Virginia.

In order to continue to be the number one state in the country in which to do business, Virginia must have the best talent available in the United States.  Within the next decade, it is estimated that Virginia will have more than 200,000 jobs in technology unfilled. According to the 10-year forecast for I.T. workers needed in GO Virginia Region 1, there will be a demand for 1,386 new workers (Region 1 Data Review, Chmura’s JobsEQ).   Ignite Tech Talent directly aligns with the strategies of Region 1 to support talent development to strengthen the pipeline at all levels.  A targeted industry of the region, information technology is expected to be a high-growth occupation across the Commonwealth of Virginia with expected growth by 2024 of 9.3%, which outpaces the national growth expectation of 6.5% (Virginia Employment Commission Virginia Job Outlook).

Ignite Tech Talent builds on United Way of Southwest Virginia’s Ignite program by focusing on this specialized sector strategy.  Ignite Tech Talent will focus on funneling students into Information Technology careers across Southwest Virginia.  Beginning in middle school, students will participate in career exploration, career planning, and work-based learning opportunities that focus on Information Technology.  In high school students will take technology-related courses and pursue dual enrollment opportunities with the community college partners. Pathways will be aligned with transferable skills and credit to advance their education, experience and plans to full-time I.T. employment.

For questions or comments, please contact Mary Anne Holbrook, Director of Community Relations at


The Virginia Initiative for Growth and Opportunity in each region (GO Virginia) is a bipartisan, business-led economic development initiative. GO Virginia promotes the creation of high wage careers, private sector job growth and diversification across the Commonwealth through incentivized regional collaboration. GO Virginia Region One covers the 13 counties and 3 cities in the three planning districts that represent Southwest Virginia. The Region One Council is mostly made up of private sector business leaders and some members of the public sector and higher education. For more information on GO Virginia Region One, visit For more information on GO Virginia, visit