The West Piedmont Region has a long history of agriculture, furniture manufacturing, and textile production. However, in the 1990s and 2000s, the area was significantly impacted by the loss of jobs due to plant closures and downsizings, particularly in the textile, apparel, and furniture sectors. Efforts continue to transform the Region’s economy while working to further educate the workforce and retain/expand existing businesses and attract new ones. The Region is still dealing with the effects of globalization and implementing strategies to become more diversified and competitive in the global market, with new opportunities for entrepreneurs, workforce training, and collaboration between educational institutions, economic/workforce development, government, and industry. Over the past decade, the Region’s localities have continued to invest in infrastructure and programs aimed at strengthening the economy and improving the quality of life for its citizens.
The West Piedmont Planning District was designated as an Economic Development District by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration (EDA), in 1992. This designation represents a partnership among the West Piedmont Planning District Commission, its member local governments, and the EDA and assists with establishing regional priorities for projects and investments through the annual development of a Regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) document. Since the original Public Works and Economic Development Act was enacted in 1965, economic development planning has been a key element in achieving EDA’s long-range goals.
Through the PDC’s Economic Development District program, the Commission staff works closely with its member jurisdictions and economic development organizations providing demographics and technical assistance as requested. Other economic development-related activities of the Commission include administration of the West Piedmont Regional Alliance under the Virginia Regional Competitiveness Program; coordination of the West Piedmont Information Center, which provides economic data for the Region; and coordination of the West Piedmont Geographic Information System (GIS) program. Throughout the Region, economic development is multi-faceted and includes a versatile mix of building blocks, each with their own unique characteristic and attributes. As in many towns and cities across the U.S., industry, small businesses, workforce development and education, revitalization, and tourism form these building blocks and are at the forefront of most any economy. However, in our deep-rooted history, agriculture and forestry also play a very important part in our economic vitality along with businesses and industries.
The Planning District also is a designated Local Development District, eligible for assistance through the Appalachian Regional Commission. However, only a portion of the District qualifies for this program: the counties of Henry and Patrick, and the City of Martinsville became eligible in 2008. For more information about this or any other programs, please contact our office.