The Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission, founded in 1968, is one of 21 planning districts in the State of Virginia established by the Virginia Area Development Act to promote regional cooperation. The CPPDC is Planning District 2, and it includes the counties of Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell and Tazewell.
In 1968, the four coalfield counties of Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell and Tazewell voluntarily came together to the form the Cumberland Plateau Economic Development Commission as an Economic Development District (EDD) to work with the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to address the district’s tremendous economic development challenges. At about the same time, the Cumberland Plateau was designated as a Local Development District under the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). Shortly thereafter, the Virginia State Legislature passed the Virginia Area Development Act which set forth the framework for the establishment of regional planning district commission (PDCs) throughout the State under the supervision of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. The name of the organization was then changed to the Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission and remains the official name of the organization to this day, but with still strong ties to EDA and ARC.
The purpose of the Commission as stated in the original By-laws was to assist the District’s localities in addressing local problems on a regional basis as well as promoting economic development in the District in cooperation with Federal, State and local governments and organizations. That mission is the same today, and the four counties have greatly benefitted from this cooperative effort.
It is appropriate to identify the founding fathers and early leaders of the Cumberland Plateau. The early Boards of Directors included the following appointees from each County:
Buchanan County: Aurthor BrownHarold W. SmithJames A. McGlothlinRussell LesterIra C. RatliffJohn DavisEugene (Shorty) FarmerWalden KeenThurman BoydFranklin D. BrownDickenson County: Everett DavisBonsall SykesK.V. HerndonGuy EdwardsMilan SutherlandRemire SutherlandVeldon VanoverTeddy BaileyBoots LambertBill PattonRussell County: Sherman WallaceAlma BarnettLeon OwensE.D. HiltonR.F. FergusonRoy SmithGeorge HarringtonFred PhillipsHerman PuckettBob Dickenson Tazewell County: James B. BaileyDr. F.W. WadsworthRon WorkmanJohn R. McCallH. Eldridge BrownCharles E GreeverClyde BollingLouis HunterGraham HendrickLes Ballard
While these local leaders bought into the vision of regional cooperation early on, numerous local county and town leaders followed and have served the Planning District in exemplary fashion over its long history. And this spirit of cooperation has served our localities well as hundreds of millions of federal, state and regional grant and low-interest loan dollars have been obtained for much needed water, sewer, industrial sites, telecommunications and other infrastructure projects in the four counties.
All of these projects improved the quality of life for District citizens and enhanced diversification of the local economy. And by joining together and hiring PDC staff to work for all four counties, this was done at great savings to local governments and in a cost effective way. In a 1970 Report, the Cumberland Plateau’s first Chairman, Sherman Wallace, stated that in 1969 the District had received $111,469.01 in grants and services for the 4 counties $12,622.50 in dues. In FY 2014, District localities received federal, state and regional grant/loan funds of nearly $48 million. At $35,000 in annual dues for each of our four counties, that amounts to $340 returned to the District for every one dollar in local dues. Over our many years, that return on local investment has been replicated many times. Truly, regional cooperation pays enormous dividends.
A list of projects that have received grant and loan funding since 1968 follows. This chart shows projects of regional impact, such as our regional broadband project, at the beginning of each county list since they all benefitted. Taking this number once and then adding each county’s projects, the total in grant/loan dollars received over our history is nearly $500 million, or half a billion dollars! This could only have happened through the cooperative efforts of local governments, PSAs, and IDAs, as well as state and federal government agencies, private consultants, private businesses, our state and federal legislators and other partners.
This list does not even include all of the projects funded as some early records are not available. And it does not reflect the benefits of the PDC’s efforts in forming other organizations that created their own boards and now operate independently, including Appalachian Agency for Senior Citizens, Cumberland Mountain Community Services, Cumberland Plateau Regional Housing Authority, and Cumberland Plateau Regional Waste Management Authority. Each agency has brought in millions of additional dollars to provide essential community services to our elderly, handicapped and low-income citizens. In the Waste Authority’s case, a recent study revealed that the member counties have conservatively saved about $50 million in local funds by working together.
Neither does the list reflect the millions of dollars saved through some of the PDC’s innovative local assistance programs, including the now discontinued Public Works Program (PWP) and the Shell-building Program. Over the years, the PDC has received over 20 Innovation Awards from the National Association of Development Organization for projects like these two, as well as our regional broadband and wireless 4G projects. In the case of the PWP, the Planning District acquired grant funding for a water delivery truck and other equipment such as dozers, backhoes and trucks to work with local communities on a variety of public works and site development efforts. In addition to delivering millions of gallons of potable water to hundreds of homes and businesses without public water, the program assisted in developing recreation sites in Dickenson County (Bearpen), Russell County (Honaker H.S. Baseball Field), Buchanan County (Council Pool) and Tazewell County (Richlands Recreation Park). And in the Shell Building Program, the PDC, using its office building as collateral for construction loans, worked with the four counties and VCEDA to construct nine (9) shell buildings which are all occupied and providing hundreds of jobs and jobs training services to the district.
As you review the many projects that have been implemented since 1968, think of the many local, regional state, federal and private partners that believed in working together for the betterment of the District and her citizens. Truly, they believed that regional cooperation made “cents”.
Named the Best Rural Regional Council in America in 1987 by the National Association of Regional Councils.
Obtained 100 percent grant funding for the construction of 700 miles of fiber optic broadband backbone that is serving almost 800 industrial, commercial, governmental and educational institutions in the region. Among these are CGI, Northrup Grumman, Sykes, Pyott-Boone and Serco which are employing over 1,000 people.
Provided GIS Tax Mapping services to the District's counties at great savings in local funding.
Administers a Revolving Loan Fund for local business creation, retention and expansion that has helped create and retain several thousand jobs in the District.
Administered an award-winning regional jobs training program in both Lenowisco and the Cumberland Plateau for 17 years helping thousands to find gainful employment.
Partnered with Lenowisco and Mt. Rogers PDC's to complete regional water and sewer plans leading to dedicated state funding to date of about $2.0 million in water and sewer planning funds for the District and $7.0 million in water and sewer construction funds for our four counties.
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