The mission of the Bedford County Economic Development Authority is to sustain and improve the quality of life in Bedford County through a prudent and cost effective economic development program that results in a strong corporate tax base and quality jobs for all county residents.
The four primary goals to carry out the mission are:
- Support the retention and expansion of existing business
- Attract new economic opportunity to Bedford County
- Cultivate a skilled workforce
- Increase awareness among target groups about Bedford County Economic Development assets.
Support the retention and expansion of existing businesses.
The existing businesses are of vital importance to Bedford County. A number of studies have documented that job growth from existing businesses far exceeds job growth from industry attraction.
The County’s Existing Business program focuses on assisting the local business community with services that solve issues, improve workforce development, and increase innovation and creativity.
This is accomplished through:
- A business visitation and recognition program
- A strong communication plan to encourage open communication and build trust
- Coordination of incentives and grants that support job creation and economic growth
Attract new economic opportunity to Bedford County.
Attracting new businesses to the local economy is important because it adds new dimension to the existing economic base and provides an opportunity to shift the base toward higher paying jobs. A business attraction program also helps to replace or supplement companies that are either closing, downsizing, outsourcing, or otherwise adjusting their business in a way that impacts the local economy.
The County’s business attraction program is focused on executing an effective marketing plan that includes a visible web and digital media presence, participation in local, state, and national meetings and tradeshows, and increased communication among target groups.
The primary focus areas for new business growth are:
- Manufacturing or service sector projects new to Bedford County
- Tech-based economic development projects that provide higher paying jobs
- Real estate reuse and redevelopment projects
- New business start-ups or entrepreneurial ventures
- Retail and commercial projects in target areas
Specific strategies include:
- Maintain at least 200 acres of county owned or optioned property that can be made available to a company within 45 – 60 days.
- Promote available sites and buildings on the county’s economic development website, as well as yesvirginia.org and other channels.
- Offer performance based incentive grants, workforce development and training programs, “build to suit/lease options, and other mechanisms that attract strong companies.
- Market and promote the benefits of doing business in Bedford County (Enterprise and Technology Zones, cost of doing business, quality of life aspects, tax structure, etc.)
- Building relationships and open communication among key target groups (local businesses, tobacco commission staff, regional and state economic development leadership, commercial real estate developers, venture capital investors, etc.)
- Maintain an inventory of virtual buildings and available real estate.
- Execute an effective marketing program to attract new businesses to the county.
Cultivate a skilled workforce
Bedford County strives to align education and economic development to benefit local companies with their workforce development needs. The Office of Economic Development coordinates with local and regional education organizations to deliver workforce development initiatives. These include workforce readiness courses, customized training and even graduate engineering programs. In addition, the Office of Economic Development brings together Virginia Employment Commission, Region 2000 Career Center and state workforce personnel to assist companies in the hiring process.
The County also provides the Bedford One Program that introduces high school students to future career opportunities at local and regional businesses through tours and internships. This award-winning program has been highly successful in making students aware of local and regional opportunities and the business community has been very supportive.
Increase awareness of Bedford County’s Economic Development program.
With the increased competition among localities for economic development projects, it’s more important than ever that Bedford County promote its unique assets that are attractive to businesses. These include, among other things, incentives, tax structures, the low cost of doing business, quality of life, and land options.
Strategies to increase awareness include:
- Maintain an EDA organization that is fiscally sound, well organized, and active.
- Publish news releases, web content, and a newsletter to increase awareness and visibility for Bedford County Economic Development.
- Meet and communicate with the Board of Supervisors, local businesses, and regional and state officials regarding economic development goals and objectives.
- Conduct meetings, trade show visits, and marketing initiatives throughout the year to promote the benefits of living and working in Bedford County.