Recent News


Five projects across 11 localities awarded Virginia Telecommunications Initiative grants to help connect over 11,700 homes, businesses, and community institutions RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Virginians living and working in 11 localities will gain access high-speed internet thanks to more than $29.6 million in grants awarded through the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI). The funding will support five projects, connecting more than 11,700 households, businesses, and anchor institutions to broadband service, and leveraging over $34 million in private and local investments. Administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), VATI provides targeted financial assistance to extend broadband service to areas that are currently unserved by a provider. In his 2020 budget, Governor Northam made an historic investment of nearly $50 million in VATI funding. His proposed budget invests an additional $15 million in fiscal year 2022 to maintain this significant level of funding. “Now more than ever, we must ensure that Virginians in every part of our Commonwealth have access to reliable, high-speed internet,” said Governor Northam. “With these grants, we will help bridge the digital divide in unserved communities and provide thousands of households and businesses with the connections they need to work, learn, and thrive.” “Since day one of the Northam Administration, broadband expansion has been a key priority to connect our unserved Virginians,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “These grants will connect more than 11,000 households, businesses and community anchors to high-speed internet, allowing them important opportunities in education, work, and healthcare.” Projects were selected through a competitive process that evaluated each project for demonstrated need and benefit for the community, applicant readiness and capacity, and the cost and leverage of the proposed project. The level of funding awarded is based on the infrastructure needs in the project area. In this application year, VATI received 45 applications from 53 units of local government that partnered with 26 internet service providers, requesting more than $105 million in funding. The five projects announced today are the first round of high-ranked projects. These projects are either unaffected by the recently announced Federal Communications Commission’s Phase I of Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) preliminary awards or have already been re-scoped by the applicant to remove overlap with RDOF funded areas. A second round of awards of the remaining high-ranked projects, including those that have been re-scoped and re-evaluated due to the impact of RDOF will be announced utilizing the remaining available funds in the coming months. Additional information on VATI is available here. The following projects will be awarded in round one of the 2021 VATI grants: Botetourt County and Lumos $1,364,337 Botetourt County, through a partnership with internet service provider Lumos, will extend its broadband network in the county. The project will bring broadband access to 548 serviceable units, including 30 businesses, through the construction of 59 miles of fiber-optic cable. Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission and Point Broadband $16,285,217    Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission will construct 1,312 miles of fiber through a partnership with Point Broadband. The project includes the counties of Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell, and Tazewell and will provide access to 8,335 serviceable units, including 82 businesses.  LENOWISCO Planning District Commission and Scott County Telephone Cooperative $1,230,563 LENOWISCO Planning District Commission, in partnership with Scott County Telephone Cooperative, will construct 73 miles of fiber at gigabit speeds in Lee County, and provide access to 679 total serviceable units. Mecklenburg County and EMPOWER Broadband $449,381 Mecklenburg County will construct over 22 miles of fiber in partnership with EMPOWER Broadband. The project will connect 414 serviceable units to broadband at gigabit speeds, including 12 businesses. Northern Neck Planning District Commission and All Points Broadband $10,288,069.82 Northern Neck Planning District Commission, in partnership with All Points Broadband, will construct a regional network that will provide gigabit-capable, fiber-to-the-home broadband to unserved locations in the counties of King George, Northumberland, Richmond, and Westmoreland. The project will provide access to 1,767 total serviceable units, including 31 businesses.

Virginia Enterprise Zone

Partnership between state and local government aims to stimulate economic growth and revitalization The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development today announced the five-year renewal of six Virginia Enterprise Zone (VEZ) designations in the counties of Alleghany, Henry, Lunenburg, and Pittsylvania, and the cities of Covington, Danville, and Martinsville, and the towns of Clifton Forge, Kenbridge, and Victoria.  Enterprise Zone designations are based on locality need, which is determined by unemployment rate, area median income, and the percentage of students receiving free or reduced-price lunch, as well as the projected impact of the incentives. The program is a partnership between state and local government that encourages economic development through job creation and private investment. “VEZ helps localities get a leg up when it comes to attracting economic development projects, and I am pleased to see renewals for these six communities,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “As we work on economy recovery from the effects of the pandemic, tools like VEZ that we can use to encourage capital investment and job creation is vitally important.”  The six zones receiving renewals were initially designated in 2000 and would have reached the end of their 20-year designation periods on Dec. 31, 2020. Legislation passed by the General Assembly in 2019 allows zones designated prior to 2005 to request one five-year renewal, effectively increasing the zone designation period from 20 to 25 years.  The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) administers the VEZ program, which supports job creation and private investment by providing state and local incentives, such as the Job Creation Grant (JCG) and the Real Property Investment Grant (RPIG), to qualified businesses and investors in enterprise zones. In 2019 alone, firms receiving program incentives created or retained 3,829 jobs and invested over $281 million in real estate improvements. Recommendations for the six zone renewals were based on the continued need for such zone, the effectiveness of each enterprise zone in creating jobs and providing capital investment incentives, and the locality’s performance of Enterprise Zone responsibilities. Additional information about the VEZ program is available here.  Renewed Virginia Enterprise Zones: Zone 53  Alleghany County, Town of Clifton Forge, City of Covington Zone 54A Henry County Zone 54B  City of Martinsville Zone 55 Lunenburg County, Town of Kenbridge, Town of Victoria Zone 57A  Pittsylvania County Zone 57B City of Danville 


Grants totaling $90,000 will support entrepreneurial training and small business development programs RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced $90,000 in Community Business Launch (CBL) grants for the town of Blackstone and the city of Buena Vista. CBL provides funding to conduct business plan competitions and offer training to entrepreneurs that aligns with local and regional economic development strategies, primarily in Virginia’s downtown commercial districts.  “This public health crisis has underscored the value of programs like CBL that prepare entrepreneurs for the rigors of operating in a fast-changing business environment,” said Governor Northam. “As we respond to the economic devastation this virus has caused and look ahead toward a post-pandemic future, Virginia will continue to use every resource available to support the small businesses that are the heart of our downtown commercial districts and the bedrock of our economy.” Administered through the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), CBL is a place-based entrepreneurial development initiative that helps fill vacant storefronts with community-based expansion or startup ventures. Local CBL programs train entrepreneurs, creatives, and small business owners on business planning practices, culminating with an opportunity for finalists to compete for grant funding and support services from the community to kick-start their new venture.  “CBL supports communities in identifying businesses needed in their downtown districts and supporting those businesses beyond the grand opening,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “By combining training with a business plan competition, we are creating and nurturing strong local entrepreneurial ecosystems that will support current and future small business growth.” Since 2014, $1.53 million in CBL funds have been awarded to 24 communities serving more than 450 participating entrepreneurs across Virginia. In total, CBL has garnered more than $2.25 million in private investment, with over 230 new full-time jobs created and at least 100 jobs retained. Projects were reviewed and evaluated competitively, with an emphasis on those with the capacity to implement a successful campaign, alignment with regional or local strategies and the availability of matching resources. Five new applications for fiscal year 2021 requested a total $223,750 in funding. Grantees from fiscal year 2020 were offered extensions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional information about the CBL initiative can be found at The following projects will be awarded CBL grants: Blackstone Business Launch Downtown Blackstone, Inc. and Town of Blackstone $45,000 The town of Blackstone and Downtown Blackstone, Inc. will host an eight-week business competition to diversify retail businesses and address vacancies created during the pandemic in the downtown district, potentially focusing on food-based businesses. Upon completion, Blackstone will produce or expand four businesses and create at least 10 jobs. Buena Vista Community Business Launch City of Buena Vista $45,000 The city of Buena Vista will host a 10-week business competition focused on its downtown. Buena Vista is currently using a Community Development Block Grant to develop an assessment of local assets and market potential for specific downtown retail businesses. As part of that assessment, the city sees hospitality, small-scale manufacturing, and web-based retail as part of the new business sector in the downtown district. Upon completion, Buena Vista will create or expand three businesses and create at least five jobs.

Upcoming Events

Eviction Moratorium

CDC-issued eviction moratorium has been extended by the recent federal stimulus package, to suspend eviction proceedings through Jan. 31, 2021.

COVID-19 Homeless Assistance and Prevention

Those experiencing homelessness or other housing crisis should contact their local crisis assistance hotline by clicking here to find your local hotline.

Housing Innovations in Energy Efficiency

DHCD's Housing Innovations in Energy Efficiency (HIEE) Program is funded through Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) proceeds. The program will make energy efficiency upgrades to new and existing residential buildings to reduce energy bills for low-income Virginians

Virginia Governor's Housing Conference

Mark your calendar for the virtual 2021 Virginia Governor’s Housing Conference Nov.10-12. Join us for this three-day event packed full of educational sessions led by experts in housing, finance, and community development.

Grant Management Workshop

Mark your calendar to attend the virtual DHCD Grant Management Workshop, Back to Basics: Building a New Foundation, on Jan. 26-28. 

Local Government Exchange Program

The Virginia Local Government Exchange Program will serve as a vehicle to explore and build stronger relationships between community leaders in our vast state. This pilot program is a partnership of the Governor’s Office, Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), Virginia Association of Counties (VACo) and Virginia Municipal League (VML).

Partners for Better Communities Podcast

Each episode features the voices of leaders and change makers across the commonwealth. We will look at the innovation and inspiration at play as local, regional and state leaders work together to create safe, affordable and prosperous communities.

Virginia Disparity Study

Virginia has commissioned BBC Research & Consulting (BBC) to conduct a disparity study to assess whether barriers exist for minority- or woman-owned businesses that make it more difficult for them to compete for commonwealth contracts.

Virginia Main Street Blog

Check out the latest happenings in the Main Street and downtown revitalization world through the Virginia Main Street Blog.

2018 Code Development Process

The Virginia Building Codes are updated through the code development process. Virginia is a leader in building and fire code development, and stakeholder input is vital to Virginia’s code development process. Participation is encouraged and remote participation is made possible through cdpVA.

Landlord Tenant Handbook

The Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (VRLTA) handbook has been prepared to provide information on the rights, remedies and responsibilities of landlords and renters concerning the rental process. Before signing a lease, prospective tenants should read and understand the terms of the contract. Consulting a lawyer or the landlord for clarification of the rental agreement is advisable.