Connected DMV wins $1.1M federal grant to bolster regional economic development; Arcadia Farm offers high school internships

Connected DMV, an organization that is creating initiatives to drive improvements to the social, digital and physical infrastructure across the Washington area, won a $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce to bolster a regional economic development strategy.

This award from the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration will support the development of the “DMV Regional Equity and Growth Playbook” to establish a unified structure and collaboration model across regional organizations and the public, private, academic, and community sectors in Greater Washington. The Playbook initiative is the first of its kind aimed at delivering sustainable economic growth and social equity that benefits all communities in the D.C. region.

The Playbook project will last 12 months and will deliver the first comprehensive regional economic assessment, first regional metrics scorecard, and a new “DMV Atlas” tool that will integrate public, private, and academic data sets to assist with regional planning and evaluation activities for equitable and inclusive growth.

The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) is a Connected DMV sponsor. Victor Hoskins, president and CEO of the FCEDA, one of the three co-chairs of Connected DMV’s Regional Economic Development Strategy initiative and a Connected DMV trustee, applauded the federal grant.

“In the last two years we have learned just how much we need to improve our research and data capabilities to design strategies and programs that create economic opportunity for all corners of our region,” Hoskins said. “This grant from the Economic Development Administration will help Connected DMV build those capabilities so we can expand equitable opportunities for all and diversify our regional economy to fulfill its potential as a global hub of innovation.”

​Established in March 2019, Connected DMV is an initiatives-based, charitable 501(c)(3) organization that works with other organizations across Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia — the DMV. Connected DMV focuses on initiatives that span local jurisdictions and require public-private-academia-community collaboration to best achieve enduring economic health and social equity.

Connected DMV applied for the funding in partnership with Federal City Council, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area.

“For many decades, our region’s development has been held back by jurisdictional fragmentation, limited cross-sector coordination, and socioeconomic inequities. The COVID-19 pandemic has only highlighted the regional nature of our economy as well as the persistent socioeconomic divisions,” said Stu Solomon, president and CEO of Connected DMV. “It’s time for a new approach to deliver sustainable economic growth and social equity. These funds from the Economic Development Administration will enable game-changing solutions so that everyone in Greater Washington can live, dream and thrive, regardless of zip code.”

Click here to read the Economic Development Administration’s announcement of the grant.

Photo courtesy of Arcadia Farm

Richmond Highway farm offers internships for high schoolers

A farm in the Mount Vernon area of Fairfax County is looking to grow a new crop of farmers through an internship program.

Yes, we said “farm” in the Mount Vernon area.

Under the program through Arcadia Farm based on the historic grounds of Woodlawn Estate, high school student interns commit 80 hours to learn gardening, communication, and leadership skills through hands-on experience at the farm, as well as at partner gardens in the Richmond Highway (Route 1) corridor. Called Live, Eat, Grow Route 1, it is a cost-saving option taught to high school students to create a nutritious and sustainable future, ABC7 reported.

Launched in 2019 with funding from the Northern Virginia Health Foundation, the L.E.G. Route 1 Project is grounded in the belief that a community’s food system is critical to the health of its residents, the organization said. Arcadia is working with the Fairfax Food Council and Virginia Cooperative Extension to build systems to ensure that the Richmond Highway area has access to gardening opportunities as well as healthy, affordable food.

Click here to find out more about the internship program.