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Virginia's Heartland
Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy

Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy


The Commonwealth Regional Council (CRC) began its Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) effort with the intent to create a viable economic development plan that would provide a roadmap for sustainable economic growth. Since the EDA approved the CRC CEDS, the heartland region will be eligible to receive funding from EDA programs for various projects such as: economic adjustment, planning, trade adjustment assistance, public works, and technical assistance. In addition, the CEDS process will lead to establishing an Economic Development District (EDD) designation for the CRC. EDDs are multi-jurisdictional entities that help lead locally based, regionally driven economic development planning, incorporating the involvement of the public, private, and non-profit sectors to establish a strategic roadmap for regional collaboration.

SWOT Analysis

The Commonwealth Regional Council (CRC) region possesses a wide variety of attractive economic strengths that can be used to advance the region as well as weaknesses that could hold the region back. Knowing the area’s strengths and weaknesses is critical to unlocking economic growth and sustainability.
The following section outlines the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats ( or other wise known as SWOT) facing the Heartland region. Strengths are positive indicators present within the region. Weaknesses are deficiencies or problems that are also present within the region. Opportunities and Threats represent positive and negative outlooks that are outside of the region, either in time (future) or physically.


  • Fiber Network: Existing and Planned
  • Atlantic Coast Pipeline
  • Water Infrastructure/Sandy River
  • Transportation Infrastructure Connections
  • Higher Education Presence
  • Location: Proximity to Larger Metro Areas
  • Sense of Place
  • Rural Nature
  • Land Prices & Available Sites


  • Last mile broadband access
    Lack of skilled workforce
    Low educational attainment
    Export-oriented economic activity
    Localized economic clusters
    Regional fragmentation
    Inter-regional Transportation
    Public Services


  • The Port of Virginia Expansions and Improvements
  • Retiree Attractions
  • Agricultural Potential
  • Nearby Economic Clusters


  • Public Spending: Federal and State Funds
  • Brain Drain – Young Educated
  • Professional Do Not Retain in Region After Graduation

Vision for the Heartland

The twenty-first century economic climate requires connecting businesses, workers, and resources in productive and novel ways. The Virginia’s Heartland region is working to fulfil this requirement by having an abundance of low-cost land, recent capital investment, and access to a variety of opportunities to increase human capital within its labor force. The Commonwealth Regional Council (CRC) has established three primary goals to bring long-term economic development to the region. These three goals are to: strengthen the region’s workforce, broaden the region’s industries and businesses, and leverage education for growth and gain. Each of these goals is supported by specific implementation strategies to achieve the Vision for Virginia’s Heartland.

Tracking Our Progress

This 2020 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) measures key community demographics and proposes a vision, goals, and strategies to improve economic conditions in Virginia’s Heartland region. Many of the efforts associated with this plan are long-term initiatives that will require the efforts of interconnected governing bodies and community groups over 10 or more years. Proof of these efforts’ success will be in concrete improvements in regional standards including jobs, wages, poverty, education, and other indicators that lead to local success and prosperity, each driving improvement in other areas of the region’s quality of life.

Performance measures are identified herein to gauge CEDS implementation progress by monitoring changes in income, poverty, employment, and other factors. Performance measures should be aimed at achieving clearly identified outcomes. Outcomes are not what the program does but the consequences of the program. Performance measurement is about the results of CEDS strategies.

PDF Document of CEDS Report

CEDS Update 2020