The University of Virginia’s College at Wise, Office of Economic Development (OED) was established in 2007. It was formed to build upon the strong historical role the College has played in economic development for over half a century. Specifically, the office was formed to do the following:
- Engage businesses and industries to create opportunities for students and faculty, as well as support educational programs.
- Enhance partnerships with the local economic development community, state, regional planning district commissions, and county and city economic development professionals.
- Develop co-op and internship programs with businesses and industries.
- Operate the Southwest Virginia Technology Development Center (SVTDC) in Russell County (www.svtdc.org), working with regional and state higher education institutions to create a one-stop training center.
- Operate the UVa-Wise Abingdon Center located in the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center (UVa-Wise Abingdon Center) to provide academic and professional programs to the region.
Although the College has been an economic driver in the region for over half a century, its role in economic development became more critical with the passage of the Higher Education Restructuring Act. The Restructuring Act requires colleges to be involved in economic development activities as a key component for obtaining operating flexibility.
Simultaneously, CGI and Northrop Grumman announced significant expansion plans in Southwest Virginia, bringing hundreds of high-tech jobs to the region. To support their IT operations, the Russell County IDA asked UVa-Wise to manage a state-of-the-art training center near the two companies. Through the support of the Governor and the General Assembly, the College received operational funding for the center beginning in FY2008.
Additionally, through a Technology Partnership Program, Memoranda of Understanding have been signed with Northrop Grumman and Sykes. A $1 million commitment by Northrop Grumman and the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority is supporting the College’s programs in software engineering, management information systems, and computer science. MOUs have been signed with a number of businesses and organizations throughout Southwest Virginia since the establishment of the Office of Economic Development.